A number of full-time workers for UK SMEs are taking on additional work in order to cover for colleagues on annual leave, according to a study by Elance-oDesk, an online marketplace connecting businesses with freelancers.
Almost nine-in-ten (88 per cent) of full-time employees surveyed are under unnecessary stress by having to cover working hours on behalf of absent colleagues.
The survey of 1,000 professionals found that workers clock up an average of 6.5 extra working hours each week during the summer holiday season.
The subsequent increase in unplanned workload presents a risk to businesses, with a quarter of employees feeling stressed and unappreciated. Additionally, one-in-ten workers consider leaving their jobs as a result of the summer stress.
A lack of ‘holiday etiquette’ and forward planning among UK firms results in 57 per cent of workers surveyed being expected to take on some or all of their colleagues’ work without any advance notice.
Hayley Conick, country manager of Elance-oDesk, said: “Holidays are essential to give employees time to recharge their batteries however businesses need to consider how they will manage the additional workload.
“Failure to do so can disrupt the running of a business, create dissatisfaction and lead to lost opportunities.”
More than half of workers surveyed believe their employers should considering hiring skilled freelancers to come in and take the short term strain.
However, the report finds that only five per cent of companies are currently adopting that stance. Instead, many workers are expected to have lunch at their desks (52 per cent) and work during the weekend (49 per cent).
“Our research highlights the need for businesses to bring in additional support to mitigate unnecessary stress and anxiety amongst workers, whilst ensuring business objectives are still met,” added Conick.
“By bringing in skilled freelancers temporarily, businesses can scale up and down when resources are required, without adding to their fixed cost base.”
Image: James Cridland
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