UK workers have devoured sandwiches to sustain themselves through the multiple jobs and long hours they have taken on to cope with the cost of living crisis, a top convenience foods manufacturer has said.

“The sandwich market has been really resilient despite the inflationary challenges,” Greencore’s boss, Dalton Philips said. “People are on the move and, while it’s hard to get accurate numbers, it feels like there are about 5mn-plus extra people in the marketplace doing two jobs.”

Workers holding down two jobs were “very time compressed” and so have turned to convenience foods, the CEO said.

He cited research by insurer Royal London in September that said nearly a fifth of people were working more than 56 hours a week.

“That would substantiate why our volumes are still so strong,” he said.

It chimes with data from Randstad suggesting 18 million workers in the UK will have a second job or “side hustle” if the cost of living does not fall.  The recruiter says 55 per cent said they would consider taking on a second job if the economy continued along its current trajectory.

This is a problem for HR because side hustles aren’t without their costs. They impact on time to relax, socialise and unwind — all key to good mental health in the workplace.  Most people cannot realistically fit in another 15 hours of work every week without it impacting on their lives significantly — whether that’s driving customers, delivering takeaways or walking other people’s dogs.  Most people will get burnt out pretty quickly without a day of rest, and this could contribute to the increased number of businesses reporting an outbreak of quiet quitting. 

Anecdotally, the recruiter reports seeing more side hustles in two sectors: nursing, and social care but Randstad says there are also more tech workers moonlighting – and this can be down to the fact that homeworking offers the opportunity to avoid office scrutiny.    

Randstad boss Victoria Short hit the nail on the head: “Working too hard for too long is going to have a negative impact on your work-life balance, your wellbeing and your mental health.  And I would suggest that this is not great news for workplace health and safety either. If you are absolutely shattered when you start your week, you could well end up making mistakes. Imagine the consequences on a building site or in a hospital.”