Home Business News Four in ten modern workers take on extra responsibility as demand for critical skills grows

Four in ten modern workers take on extra responsibility as demand for critical skills grows

by LLB staff reporter
22nd Feb 24 7:21 am

Four in ten employees are taking on significant extra responsibility in the workplace, according to new research commissioned by Michael Page, part of FTSE 250 recruiter PageGroup.

With an average of five tasks added on top of their day-to-day duties, this additional workload equates to around 104 hours of effort on top of workers’ contracted time each year.

In a poll of 2,000 UK workers, almost a quarter (23%) said they were assigned these additional tasks within the first three months in the role. This growing trend of ‘boundary-blurring’ sees employees handed tasks and responsibilities not previously outlined in their job descriptions.

Top responsibilities workers find themselves taking on include supporting and guiding newer colleagues (47%), taking the lead on projects outside of their job description (40%), and being asked to provide cover for long-term absentees (30%).

However, a shocking 69% of workers said they haven’t received an increase in their pay packet, despite their boosted workload and additional time investment.

Doug Rode, Managing Director UK&I at recruiter Michael Page, part of FTSE 250 PageGroup, which commissioned the research, said: “Our research has revealed a growing trend of workers accepting additional responsibilities above and beyond their contracted remit. This ‘boundary-blurring’ highlights a growing norm within the modern workforce – where workers find their previously agreed remits expanded across teams and tasks to fit the needs of the business.

“In an era of increased scrutiny around work/life balance and a growing skills gap, top talent is more valuable than ever. Businesses need to invest time and resources into finding the right talent solutions both for now and the future, rather than trying to stretch existing workers to fit an evolving remit.

“That comes with a need to respect workers’ boundaries too, and to play to their strengths. Whilst some workers thrive on taking on additional responsibilities, others may find the pressure overwhelming, making it essential that bosses understand their staff as well as their business needs.”

Despite growing expectations that workers should be accepting of increased workloads, incentives for taking on the extra responsibility appear to be few and far between. In addition to those not receiving a pay rise in recognition of their additional efforts, almost half of workers (49%) go the extra mile without receiving a one-off bonus or extra holiday allowance (51%).

The research found that 79% of workers said they would actively seek out additional tasks, while 69% praised the ‘all hands on deck’ attitude in their workplace. However, almost four in five (78%) also agreed that management should bring in the extra resources they need rather than continuously loading extra work on existing staff.

In fact, when given the choice by their employer, 32% of workers said they have actively turned down the chance to pick up additional responsibilities. The reasons for this varied, with almost half (48%) admitting they already had too much work on, and similarly, 45% were concerned it would disrupt their work/life balance if they had more responsibility. Four in ten (39%) workers said that they declined due to a lack of financial incentive, but a quarter (25%) also felt they didn’t have the right set of skills to carry the additional task out properly.

However, being given additional responsibilities comes with a valuable confidence boost for some. Almost half (46%) of UK workers said their expanded work remit shows the level of belief their employer has in them. Half of those surveyed said adopting additional responsibilities has helped them upskill as the skills gap in many industries widens, and a significant 86% of workers agreed it is important to continuously learn new skills to progress in their careers.

Over a quarter (28%) said they believe taking on additional responsibilities now will help them achieve their career goals in the long run.

Yet, whether workers see the potential value of taking on additional responsibilities or not, the survey provides a caution to business leaders: support for workers taking on extra work is quite limited. In fact, despite many respondents agreeing upskilling and education are vital to their careers, three in five (59%) said they haven’t received any additional training before getting stuck into their additional responsibilities.

Of those who did receive training support, the majority (65%) were upskilled in-house, while 48% received mentoring from senior leadership.

The research also revealed that despite the misgivings and impact the extra responsibilities have on workers, given the current economic landscape, half of respondents have felt pressure to take on additional responsibilities to remain secure in their jobs.

Doug Rode added: “With news stories highlighting layoffs and the impact of an economic downturn, it is understandable that employees are concerned about job security. Whilst this may increase their willingness to take on more work, overburdening staff can have damaging consequences on team morale and ultimately jeopardise business performance.

“Our research has revealed a sizable demographic of workers who are happy to ‘muck in’ and help out. But it has also shed light on the fact that workers hope for something in return for their time and energy invested – whether that’s recognition for going above and beyond or financial incentives such as bonuses or salary increases.

“If financial incentives are not possible in the short-term, employers should be investing in their workforce in other ways such as improving upskilling opportunities to help workers futureproof their careers.”

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