UK workers will ‘click off’ earlier this year, with half already starting their Christmas break

53% of UK employees admit that their productivity wanes in the run-up to the festive period, with half scaling back on work on or before the 14th December – and over 75% by the 18th.

As festive preparations begin, it’s unsurprising that some employees may take their foot off the gas. However, the survey of 2,000 UK employees – commissioned by employee success platform Peakon – suggests that the pandemic has exacerbated the usual pre-holiday productivity slump. One in five employees (21%) say that their productivity will dip earlier this year due to the impact the pandemic has had on them.

On the brink of burnout

Exhaustion is exposed as a significant issue amongst UK workers, with a third (33%) feeling on the brink of burnout after 2020. Women and younger people are particularly at risk. 42% of 18-34-year-olds claim to be on the brink of burnout burnout, compared to 24% of those aged 55+, and a significant 36% of women compared to 30% of men.

Senior employees are calling time on 2020 earlier than usual

Seniority also seems to play a factor in dwindling productivity. 64% of senior leaders* say their productivity dips at Christmas – compared with 45% of those with no managerial responsibility. What’s more, a third (33%) of senior leaders expect their productivity to dip earlier this year – compared with 21% of those with no managerial responsibility. This may be due to the added pressure this year has placed on senior employees, as 35% feel on the brink of burnout.

Looking to 2021

British workers have mixed feelings about the new year. Conducted following the news of successful vaccine trials, the results show that 35% are optimistic about the year ahead, feeling that this must be better than 2020. However, there is disparity across the regions, with ongoing tiering restrictions potentially affecting how employees feel in some places.

Northern Ireland is the least optimistic region, but the South West – where some areas are currently living with tier one Covid-19 restrictions – is the most optimistic.

Commenting on the results, Peakon CEO and co-founder Phil Chambers said: “These findings are reflective of a workforce that has endured the pressures of an unprecedented year. It’s concerning, if not entirely surprising, that a third of UK employees claim to be on the brink of burnout. Unless employers tackle this empathetically and head on, organisations could suffer costly consequences in 2021.

“As for the decline in productivity in the run up to the holidays, this isn’t unique to 2020. It may be frustrating, but it’s something that we all should be planning for annually. Once you accept that December is different, the final days of the year can become an opportunity to do something positive.

“So at this time of year, prioritise the deadlines and targets you need to hit and set achievable goals within the limits of the season. Take some time to come together as a company to evaluate the year: What worked well, and wasn’t quite so successful? Rather than piling on the pressure, reflect on the efforts your people have put in over the course of the year and give recognition for what they’ve achieved. Your people are your business, and the driving force behind your future success. A small gesture, such as a card or public congratulations, will help to ensure that everyone returns after the festive season feeling fresh and motivated to do their best work.”

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