Staff shortages causing unmanageable workloads for third of workers, survey finds

Experts urge businesses to focus on reducing time to hire as staff feel ‘pressure of empty seats’

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More than a third of workers are reporting unmanageable workloads as a result of staff shortages, a survey by Totaljobs has found.

In a YouGov poll of 2,000 employees and 1,000 senior HR decision makers, conducted this April, 38 per cent of workers said they could not cope with their workload and that it was affecting their mental health.

More than three-quarters (78 per cent) of workers had experienced at least one form of burnout since the start of the year, with almost half (46 per cent) saying that hiring additional staff would help.

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At the same time, 22 per cent of people professionals said they had not recruited in the last three months.

And while half (53 per cent) of HR professionals polled said they were confident they would recruit the people they needed in the next three months, a quarter (27 per cent) said skills shortages would be a challenge during that time.

Some industries had increased their recruitment activity – notably hospitality and leisure businesses; retail; and media, marketing, and sales – however the poll found the average time to fill a vacancy had increased to six weeks, up from four weeks the previous quarter.

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Jon Wilson, chief executive of Totaljobs Group, said workers were starting to “feel the pressure of empty seats in their teams”, and urged employers to focus on shortening hire times and supporting staff who might be taking on extra work in the interim.

“This, combined by the ongoing anxiety and strain caused by the cost of living crisis, means that the wellbeing of workers is a priority, and businesses need to do their bit to create an environment where people feel their voices are heard and their mental health cared for,” said Wilson.

When workers were asked what support they would like to see from their employer, as well as hiring additional staff, half (53 per cent) said they would like to have mental health days off, while 33 per cent said they would like to see more conversations about mental health in the workplace.

For HR professionals, the top two issues facing them in the next quarter were staff retention and skills shortages, with 28 and 27 per cent reporting this respectively.

Just a quarter (25 per cent) of HR professionals polled said the mental wellbeing of their staff was a concern, with 23 per cent reporting that they would encourage staff to take time off for their mental wellbeing In the next three months.

Meanwhile, 17 per cent said they were training mental health first aiders, and 16 per cent say they were introducing wellbeing initiatives for the first time.