The Sunday night blues…

Do you get the Sunday night work blues? Or do you live with someone who dreads going to work the next day? Research published  by Engage for Success reveals that 47 million hours* are spent worrying about work every weekend by full-time employees across Britain.

If you work at weekends, I doubt you are exempt from this feeling, but the day you feel it may be different. The research reveals that an average employee’s weekend is shortened by three hours due to ‘Sunday night work blues’ and some top tips have been released to help combat it.

How big is the problem?

  1. Almost three quarters (72%) of full-time British employees worry about their job during the weekend –meaning 15 million people are affected in total
  2. The average amount of time spent on weekend work worries is 3.1 hours, which amounts to 47 million hours of worry each weekend in total
  3. The most common causes of work worry are concerns about job security and the threat of redundancy (36%)
  4. More than one in five (22%) of employees worry that they are not fulfilling their potential at work
  5. More than half (52%) of weekend worriers are most affected on a Sunday night

We all know the importance of relaxation away from work, but these stats show that three in four British employees worry about work at the weekend. Does this figure surprise you?

The science bit
The research was conducted by Populus in November 2012 with more than 2000 British adults. It revealed that people aged between 25-34 have the biggest work worries and those in London are the most likely across Britain to have their weekends affected. Men (49%) are almost just as likely to worry about work over the weekend as women (51%). Being 32, living in London and female, that doesn’t bode well for me!

So what are people worrying about? Job security is top, with more than a third (36% citing this as the main concern alongside the possible threat of redundancy. More than a fifth (23%) say they worry because their role doesn’t excite or interest them, and a similar proportion (22%) say they worry they are not fulfilling their potential at work.  Interestingly, a third (32%) of respondents worries about the way they are managed, either because their boss doesn’t recognise their talent (19%), or because their boss is very demanding (13%). Does any of this sound familiar?

What can be done?
David MacLeod and Nita Clarke, Co-Chairs of the Engage for Success Task Force said“Many of us will have experienced that feeling of dread in the pit of our stomachs as Sunday night draws in and we realise Monday morning is looming and the working week beckons once more. However, what is concerning about this research is exactly how widespread weekend work worries are – with three in four of us losing valuable relaxation time to concerns about work. Many people are experiencing real concern about job security, which is understandable in the current climate, but in almost equal numbers, British employees are worried they aren’t realising their full potential or that their manager doesn’t recognise their talents.

“Unrealised talent and lack of recognition are things that are possible to change, and for that reason it is not acceptable for so many people to be affected in this way. It may not be realistic to think we can eliminate the Sunday night Blues completely, but improved engagement in the UK has potentially huge benefits for both employees and their organisations in terms of improved wellbeing, productivity and innovation. This is why the Engage for Success mission is a vital one for every worker and manager in Britain”.

Focusing on employee engagement
A major event is taking place tomorrow, Monday 26 November, in London at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre to help share knowledge and good practice among managers to improve employee engagement across Britain. Krish Lathigra, Senior Comms and Research Manager at the Foreign and Commonwealth office is attending and will be sharing his thoughts of the day in the form of a guest article for my blog.

As promised, here is the advice from Engage for Success for reducing weekend worry in your workplace:

  1. As a manager or leader, praise and appreciate those who do good work and help their colleagues. Encourage team spirit
  2. Coach those who work for you, to build on their strengths and help them with the things they find difficult. Aspire to bring out the best and unleash the potential of the people who work with you
  3. Treat colleagues as real people to create bigger, more productive and more fulfilling relationships – employees are human beings not human resources
  4. Make sure your manager lets you know what is expected of you in your role
  5. Ask for some scope and expect some control in how you best achieve your goals
  6. You should be clear on what your organisation is trying to do, where it wants to go and how your role fits in with this. Ask for this clarity
  7. Your opinions and your voice should be heard; take part in every opportunity to make your views known
  8. Contribute your ideas to improve what the organisation does – if these are not adopted you deserve to be told why
  9. Make sure that the values on the wall are consistent with your behaviours and those of your colleagues, managers and leaders
  10. If your organisation has to reduce numbers – play your part in ensuring that this is done fairly, openly, transparently and supportively, especially by helping people to go about preparing for and finding new jobs.

What do you think of the research and the advice above? Do you agree/disagree with it or have additional information to add? You can comment below or find Engage for Success on Twitter @engage4success, via the hashtag #e4s, LinkedIn or Facebook.

Post author: Rachel Miller

*According to the Office of National Statistics (2012) there are 20,860,000 full time employees in Great Britain. According to their Populus poll (November 2012) of 754 full time employees in GB, 72% worry about work over the weekend. 72% of 20,860,000 is 15,019,200. Multiplied by 3.16 hours (the mean average amount of time spent worrying by GB employees who worry on the weekend according to Populus, 2012) = 47,460,672 hours every weekend by the total population of full-time GB employees who worry.


  1. Steve Smith says:

    Thanks for this interesting article Rachel. I’m surprised to see that ‘communication’ is missing from the list of worries as our research shows that a lack of communication is a major cause of upset for a lot of employees.

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