New data from employee experience super app Blink has revealed a 40% drop in enthusiasm and engagement levels amongst UK frontline workers in January 2024, compared to the previous month.

The data, which is based on frontline employees’ digital interactions in the workplace, shows they do so considerably less in the weeks following the busy Christmas period. According to Blink, after spotting trends in usage of the app amongst 96,000 frontline employees from 82 UK companies, their interactions on channels like company message boards and group chats dropped from 230,857 in December 2023, to just 137,175 in January 2024.

This year’s data aligns with a consistent decline in employee engagement levels from December to January over the past five years – dropping by 38% in 2023 & 2022, 24% in January 2021 and 11% in January 2020.

Blink’s founder and CEO Sean Nolan warns the data reflects a growing trend dubbed ‘silent burnout’, which often peaks after a busy Christmas period in industries with a high percentage of frontline workers like retail, travel and healthcare.

Silent burnout describes when deskless workers feel so undervalued and unsupported in their roles that they mentally check out of their jobs and do not openly complain about it. It is often compounded in January due to the New Year fatigue frontline workers are already battling. With limited face-to-face communication among deskless workers, workplace grievances and wellbeing issues are more likely to  remain unspoken, resulting in a silent struggle that takes its toll in the form of even more absences or, ultimately, resignation.

Sean Nolan said: “A nice, relaxing Christmas break simply isn’t the reality for so many frontline workers. Instead, it is their busiest time of the year, bringing an increase in workload, extra shifts and stress.

“We know from speaking with both employers and employees that this can result in diminished engagement as workers struggle with feelings of frustration, a lack of support and burnout. They stop engaging in group conversations, they don’t open company updates, and crucially, they don’t make any attempts to speak to someone about how they’re feeling.”

Nolan underscores the significance of proactively identifying employees at risk of silent burnout – encouraging HR teams to monitor workloads and look for signs of stress among those who have taken on high numbers of shifts.

He adds: “It’s important for organisations to know that, with the right tools and measures in place, silent burnout can be avoided. Fostering an environment where communication is not only encouraged, but made easy and accessible for those who aren’t based at a desk full-time, is crucial. Likewise, having technology in place that brings together a range of data points on employee behaviour, means companies can spot concerning trends early – like high absenteeism or shift overload – and work out a plan of action with at-risk employees.”