According to a global survey of nearly 3,000 employees across eight nations conducted by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated, many organizations undermine their own employee experience with antiquated attitudes about time off, productivity, and workload that make it challenging for employees to negotiate basic work-life demands, potentially leading to a global employee burnout crisis.
The Working Your Way survey is the second installment in the Engaging Opportunity research series (view part one) conducted with Coleman Parkes Research. The series explores how employees – both hourly and salaried from a cross-section of industries in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S. – believe emerging technologies can empower them to take control of their work from anyplace, at any time, on the device of their choice.

So, in what areas are employters letting themelves down?

Refusing time off

Almost half of employees (47 percent) have had a time-off request rejected by their employer within the last 12 months
Of the 47 percent who have had a time-off request rejected, one in four employees surveyed globally (26 percent) had a vacation request denied; about a fifth were not permitted to use personal time (22 percent) or sick time (16 percent); and 10 percent say their employer actually rejected a bereavement request.
In the U.S., 21 percent of public safety employees have had a sick day request rejected, followed closely by 18 percent of retail associates. For manufacturing (23 percent) and healthcare (17 percent) employees, the most commonly rejected time-off request is the use of vacation time.
Nearly half of all employees globally directly blame their manager (45 percent) when a time-off request is rejected, which could create an uncomfortable rift that further disengages employees. Blaming the manager is even more common in Mexico (49 percent), Australia and New Zealand (48 percent), Canada (46 percent), and Germany (46 percent).
Canada, the U.K., and U.S. lead the world in workaholics, with 11 percent of survey respondents reporting they have not asked for any time off within the last year.

Simon Porter, vice president, digital HR services, NGA HR and board member, The Workforce Institute at Kronos added: 
“In many respects, the traditional 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. working day is disappearing. Organizations that build a culture of trust – especially those that empower employees to work at the times or locations they find most beneficial – will benefit from stronger employee engagement, higher productivity, and improved retention. Engaged employees often recognize flexibility is a two-way street, which is why they will also be more willing to adjust their own schedules to accommodate times of high demand that require extra or discretionary effort, off-hours work.”
Less than half of employees (41 percent) globally believe preventing employee burnout is a top priority for their organization and nearly a third of employees (29 percent) surveyed say they are currently approaching a state of burnout and need their workload to change. The situation is most severe in France (42 percent) and Mexico (40 percent).

Ignoring burn out

About a third of employees (31 percent) globally believe their manager does not care if they burn out. In the U.S., where burnout is a hot topic, that drops to about a quarter of employees (27 percent).
Older U.S. millennials1 (36 percent), as well as public safety (42 percent), logistics and transportation (35 percent), and retail employees (30 percent), feel most strongly that their managers do not care if they burn out.
Three-quarters of employees (72 percent) say they try hard to avoid sick days, which may be a byproduct of stringent company policies around sick time, as 29 percent of survey respondents also say they’re expected to be at work even when they are ill. In fact, a quarter (25 percent) are required to report to work while ill so their manager can judge how sick they are.
Access to sick pay is a barrier to rest and recovery: nearly half of employees in Mexico (45 percent) and France (43 percent) say they work while ill because they are not paid for sick leave. This is also true for a third (34 percent) of U.K. employees, as well as a quarter of those in Canada (27 percent), Australia/New Zealand (27 percent), and U.S. (22 percent). In Germany, it drops even lower to just 19 percent.


Scheduling woes

Nine out of 10 employees globally (90 percent) think their organization can improve scheduling
With an eye on technology, a third of employees surveyed globally (33 percent) want solutions that make it easier to swap shifts, seek coverage from colleagues, or opt into open shifts for more hours, especially through mobile phones and tablets.
More than a quarter (28 percent) wish their organization would embrace self-scheduling, allowing employees to build their own schedules or select preferred shifts that make it easier to manage personal responsibilities outside of work.
Employees are also frustrated with how long it takes managers to approve time-off and scheduling change requests (28 percent).

Ian Parkes, director, Coleman Parkes Research said of the research;
“This global survey demonstrates that employees want their employers to focus on getting the basics right. Organizations will only achieve high engagement levels if they recognize employees have responsibilities and obligations outside of work. Modern solutions that empower employees to take control of their schedules, such as chatbots that review and approve time-off requests in real-time, will play a vital role in closing this gap.”