Presenteeism continues to rise as the UK workforce feels pressured into working overtime for fear of being judged by bosses and colleagues

Poor workforce culture is forcing more than a third of British employees to stay working past their standard working hours. Worryingly, it doesn’t seem this will change as 31% of employers encourage this behaviour, according to research from totaljobs.

When segmenting the UK, workers in Birmingham are the most likely to late to keep up appearances (44%), whilst workers in Glasgow were least likely to feel pressured (28%).

The UK cities with the biggest presenteeism problem:
1. Birmingham (44%)
2. Nottingham (43%)
3. Newcastle (40%)
4. Leeds (40%)
5. London (39%)

While UK employees may be working overtime, productivity across the country remains sluggish and still well below the pre-financial crisis figures. In fact, the UK is lagging 16% behind by other G7 countries, with the US, Germany and France leading the charge.

Martin Talbot, Group Marketing Director from totaljobs commented on the findings, “Presenteeism is becoming an engrained part of British company culture but working longer hours does not necessarily lead to greater output.”

This is exemplified globally as countries such as South Korea, Nigeria and Cameroon have the longest working days of 12 hours on average, but little value is added.

The research shows that over a third of employers believe that shorter working hours actually improve productivity. “This, alongside the impact that poor work-life balance has upon morale and employee retention explains why many employers are looking to take steps to ensure that their staff go home on-time.” Talbot adds

This issue seems to affect younger workers more with 58% of 18-34 year olds feeling pressured to work overtime in order to prove their worth, whereas only 29% of workers over 50 feel the same pressure.

When asked what they are doing to address productivity in their company, one in four (26%) of employers say that they are taking steps to ensure staff don’t work past their contracted hours, offering flexible working options (25%) and ensuring their employees are busy and engaged (25%).

Grace Marshall, Productivity Expert explains why presenteeism negatively affects productivity stating, “Presenteeism thrives in a culture that honours ‘busy’ and busy is a poor judge of productivity. Unfortunately, our hard work ethic in the UK often equates commitment to working harder for longer. This inadvertently places more importance on how many hours we spend at work rather than what we achieve as a result.

“Bosses who judge their workers by how many meetings they attend, emails they send and hours they work send a signal that visibility is more important than productivity. But what looks like work isn’t always productive. In fact, it could be creating more work!”

“Companies who give their workers the incentive and flexibility to determine how they do their best work - and reward them based on the impact and value they create rather than the hours they put in - are the ones who will see the best returns in productivity, with a much more focused workforce, greater job satisfaction and improved work life balance.”