Independent Study Reports UK Healthcare Workers Feel Unvalued And Like A ‘Disposable Resource’

More than half of health and social care workers have considered quitting
64% have gone to work sick because they couldn’t afford to take time off

On the back of the report from MPs that NHS and social care staff burnout has reached an “emergency” level, an independent study has unveiled the extent of the problem.

It shows that over half (59%) of health and social care employees in the UK have considered quitting because of an unhappy working environment. And of these, over two thirds (68%) say this is because they believe they are merely a ‘temporary or disposable resource’ in the eyes of their employers.

Workforce Management Solutions provider Quinyx, polled 1,500 key workers in the UK about how they have fared in their jobs, as part of its State of the Deskless Workforce 2021 report.

  • The findings from health and social care workers include:
  • Just 55% of health and social care workers feel valued in 2021, falling sharply from 72% during the height of the pandemic
  • 64% have gone to work sick because they couldn’t afford to take time off
  • 71% have experienced understaffing at work
  • 58% have missed out on social events or holiday celebrations due to work schedules or an employer request.

Respondents complained of a high-pressure environment, with last minute changes to work schedules and difficulty in swapping shifts if they felt sick or unwell:

  • Nearly three quarters (74%) say they are contacted by bosses by call or text ‘out of hours’
  • Half cited feeling pressured into taking a shift they didn’t want
  • 53% complained they did not have access to a tool or mobile app to make swapping shifts easier

Quinyx found that over 1 in 3 (37%) have left a job because their employer did not provide schedules with enough advance notice – making it impossible for them to balance work and personal life.

With pay a hotly debated topic, interestingly 30% state they would prefer a flexible schedule over higher pay.

Toma Pagojute, Chief HR Officer at Quinyx, said: “Our research echoes that of the health and social care committee, showing the extent to which these workers feel neglected. Sadly, despite the efforts made to recognise their contribution during the pandemic by the public, it seems there was no lasting legacy for these frontline heroes in terms of flexibility or work-life balance. These factors are crucial for retaining talent within the industry.

“Not only do inflexible schedules cause headaches for healthcare workers, but last-minute changes have a huge impact on job satisfaction, affecting stress levels and morale.

“Employee engagement can be improved by respecting frontline workers, understanding them, and showing a duty of care. They deserve to benefit from effective management, flexible working schedules and a good work-life balance. Managers can do this by giving them the right tools for smooth shift swapping and the autonomy to make their own decisions. For all companies, including those within the health and social care sector, it's increasingly important to make staff satisfaction a priority.”

Tom Lyons is Managing Director of the Black Swan Care Group, a network of 20 care homes across the east of England, with over 700 employees. He added: “The report from Quinyx highlights the current issues facing the sector at large, with care staff feeling undervalued, under pressure and disillusioned, and many leaving the industry citing poor work-life balance and lack of job satisfaction.

At Black Swan Care Group we’re taking positive steps to tackle these issues, boost morale and improve engagement. This includes initiatives such as ‘surprise and delight’ rewards for the team such as treat baskets, to a ‘You Matter’ display for staff and residents, and establishing new ways to maintain a dialogue with employees so they can communicate any concerns they have. Better communication is fundamental to staff engagement, so it’s important to explore new tools that can embed this into operations.

“The reality is that it’s challenging to bring on board new employees amid a backdrop of COVID that has put enormous pressure on the whole care system and on its lifeblood, the staff. We’re currently recruiting for 40 vacancies and, as an industry, we need to change the face of caring so it is viewed as an attractive profession to enter. Especially considering that the number of adult social care jobs is expected to increase by 32% by 2035 to meet the needs of the UK’s over 85 population and adults living with disabilities.

“While the statistics in this report are disheartening, it should be a wake up call to the sector to explore what we can do to effect positive change.”