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Festive burnout ‘giving businesses a headache’

The majority of the UK workforce suffer from “festive burnout” as a result of being overworked in the run-up to Christmas, according to a study.

Stress, exhaustion and illness were cited as things experienced by three-quarters of the 2,000 respondents to a survey conducted by AXA PPP Healthcare.

It found that, in the period prior to the big day, the workloads of 69 per cent of employees increased by an average of 30 per cent.

AXA PPP Healthcare’s director of psychological services Dr Mark Winwood said: “For many employees, Christmas is full of stress and pressure and the chance to recharge their batteries is overshadowed by exhaustion and illness.”

He added that it was important that firms took “precautionary steps” to make sure that their staff “get through this hectic period and come back firing on all cylinders” in the new year.

One way of reducing stress levels could be for businesses to allow their workers to spend more time at home – where they will still be able to fulfil their roles in the office through the use of the cloud and mobile working practices. They will even still be able to participate in meetings, thanks to video conferencing technology.

Not only is festive burnout affecting businesses, but it is also having an impact on workers’ private lives. Over a quarter (28 per cent) told the survey that suffering from some form of ailment at this time of year was a regular occurrence, while 36 per cent recalled having to cancel plans with their family and friends as a result of being overworked.

Perhaps the most shocking statistic is that 26 per cent of UK workers said that they wished they could skip past Christmas altogether.

Meanwhile, when it comes to which industries feel the biggest effects of burnout, the study found that the legal profession, travel and tourism industry and entertainment sectors were the worst hit – with 80 per cent of respondents from these areas giving evidence of suffering from festive burnout.