Irish workers put in almost 300 million overtime hours during pandemic

ireland
Irish workers have put in 300 million hours of overtime since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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James Cox

Irish workers working from home have put in 300 million overtime hours since the start of the pandemic, with growing concern over increasing workforce burnout.

As the country faces another month at least of Level 5 restrictions, laya healthcare’s Resilience Rising: Shaping the Future of Work and Wellbeing research, reveals two in five (43 per cent) workers are experiencing frequent stress.

The findings show two thirds (65 per cent) of those working from home feel pressure to stay connected after normal hours with an average of 22 hours put in of overtime per month by employees over the last year, worth €7 billion.

The research, which measures the wellbeing of over 1,000 Irish employees and 180 HR leaders during the pandemic, is the second barometer issued by laya healthcare during Covid-19 and will be unveiled at a free virtual event for HR leaders on March 11th.

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Sinead Proos, head of Wellness at Laya Healthcare. Picture: Darragh Kane

Commenting on the research, Sinéad Proos, head of Health and Wellbeing at laya healthcare said: “We are seeing worrying signs of deteriorating morale among employees, due in part to less social interaction with colleagues, the struggle to self-motivate, and having to be ‘always-on’.

“Our latest barometer shows that employee motivation and maintaining organisational culture are becoming more notable issues compared to six months ago, with a greater number of employees now citing the loss of workplace bonding as their top challenge of working from home.”

Ms Proos added: “There is an overwhelming feeling of being stuck in stasis — some say the hopeful start to 2021 has failed to materialise while almost half of workers feel stuck in their current employment, wanting to change jobs but held back because of lack of opportunities. Employers also indicated that effective communication is a challenge, and this has a real knock-on effect — if workers aren’t feeling communicated to, and supported, this can lend itself to the feeling of stagnation."

Mental health

The Brave New Era research series is part of the commitment by laya healthcare, Ireland’s largest provider of Health & Wellbeing in Ireland, to support employee health and wellbeing during Covid-19.

Key areas in the workplace identified for targeted communication and support include mental wellbeing management, impact of Covid-19 vaccinations, and work arrangements in the future as we continue to work alongside the virus.

The findings reveal a desire among Irish employers and employees to make mental health services within organisations more accessible. Seven in 10 (69 per cent) organisations admit that the biggest challenge to working from home is managing the mental wellbeing of employees, up by almost 10 per cent compared to six months ago.

Ms Proos stated: “It is great to see that strides are being taken by organisations to address mental health supports, with three in four employers now offering health and wellbeing services to their workers. We encourage employers to take an inward look at the effectiveness of their health and wellbeing strategies. When we did the research last year, 61 per cent said their strategies were effective. It has now dropped to 53 per cent.”

Looking to the future

“Along with mental health management, organisations need to manage expectations around the vaccinations, sick leave and the future of work post pandemic. Over seven in 10 employees (74 per cent) believe the workforce should be vaccinated before returning to work and an encouraging 79 per cent said they would get it if available. It is critical employers support workers by communicating the facts around vaccinations, directing them to trusted sources of updated information,” Ms Proos added.

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