Almost half (43%) of UK employees in the retail sector are working beyond their contracted hours and doing some form of unpaid overtime each week.
As sales and promotions pick up in attempts to combat poor sales, 29% of retail employees are working between one and five hours extra in overtime. A further 18% are working up to 10 hours or more beyond their contracted hours.
Previous Claro Wellbeing research found that almost a quarter (23%) of employees in the sector have experienced burnout – a state of physical and emotional exhaustion caused by work stress –and employees regularly working overtime are at increased risk of poor wellbeing.
The poll of 1,000 UK-based employees by Claro Wellbeing was published in its Wellbeing Washing – The True Cost report, which seeks to uncover the disparity between organisations’ public displays of support for mental health initiatives and actual support for mental wellbeing.
As the cost of living crisis puts pressure on employees’ finances, many will be keen to prove themselves, with 8% saying they feel guilty if they do not work overtime. Nearly one in three retail workers (29%) said they work above and beyond their contracted hours due to increased workloads, suggesting staff are feeling the heat to turn sales around this summer.
Many sectors are also experiencing staff shortages, leading current employees to pick up extra tasks beyond their job description. Almost a fifth (18%) of employees working in retail say that they are expected to work beyond their contracted hours.
Stacey Lowman, head of employee wellbeing at Claro Wellbeing, said: “The number of employees in the retail sector working unpaid overtime each week is concerning due to the impact it can have on personal wellbeing. While companies are facing tough trading conditions, the cost of neglecting staff wellbeing could be significant.
“Continued overworking is likely to lead to poor wellbeing, burnout, an increased chance of mental health issues and staff taking sickness absence. Employers are also likely to see a higher staff turnover rate as employees leave for a better working environment.
“A comprehensive benefits offering can aid wellbeing and help employees deal with workplace stresses. Employers are beginning to recognise the need for better mental health support, as this was the most introduced employee benefit in the last year. Similarly, sabbaticals and paid time off are also increasingly popular benefits, as work-life balance continues to climb up the list of priorities for employees. Despite this, it’s clear that there’s much more to be done to prevent burnout.
“Work-related burnout can also be exacerbated by other stresses, such as strain on finances caused by the cost-of-living crisis. With data showing that retail workers have seen a drop of -4.65% in average weekly earnings over the past 12 months, many are feeling further pressure on budgets.
“Our Workplace Today report found that, on average, each employee spends three-and-a-half days a year at work trying to sort out their bills and completing other personal finance tasks which reduces productivity and adds to the workload burden. To support employees, employers could consider introducing a financial wellbeing programme which enables staff to access support at a time that suits them. For example, Claro Wellbeing has recently launched its ‘WhatsApp a Coach’ service, an entire financial wellbeing programme delivered over WhatsApp, designed with deskless workers in mind.”