New research highlights the testing times employees have had to deal with in light of the pandemic with over a fifth of workers stating that they plan to check out of work earlier this year due to the pandemic. 

Peakon, an employee success platform, has released new research which analyses the impact of COVID-19 in relation to the festive season and what this means for workers.

Almost half of UK employees (46 per cent) that were surveyed confessed that their productivity dips in the run-up to the festive season.

In addition, due to the pandemic and its effect on employees’ lives, over a fifth (21 per cent) stated that this would mean they would ‘click off’ earlier this year. This coincides with the same number of people (21 per cent) stating that their productivity has actually fallen faster in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Linked to this, a significant number of employees have been struggling with burnout as a result of this year, a third (33 per cent) reporting that they are on the brink of burnout. This has particularly affected younger workers – with almost a half (42 per cent) of those aged between 18-34 claiming to be on the brink of burnout in comparison to less than a quarter (24 per cent) aged over 55.

Women were also slightly more at risk for burnout as over a third (36 per cent) confessed feeling burnt out compared to only three in 10 men (30 per cent).

Seniority has also had a significant impact on the levels of burnout faced. Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of senior employees stated that their productivity dips around the festive season compared to under half of employees (46 per cent).

Looking into the next year, over a third of UK workers (35 per cent) feel positive about the year ahead, feeling that it will be better than the current one. However, regions such as Northern Ireland (21 per cent) and East Midlands (26 per cent) reported the least amounts of optimism for next year. This stands in stark contrast to the South West (42 per cent) who reported the highest levels of optimism – although it is significant to note that these results were collected before the introduction of Tier 4 in various areas in the South of England.

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.

*For this report, Peakon sampled over 8,000 employees across the UK (2,010), US (2,000), Germany (2,006) and Australasia (2,012). The survey was carried out by Opinium during the final week of November 2020 and the results were finalised on 1 December 2020.