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Home is where the stress is for 1 in 5

Half of UK workers know somebody who has taken time off work for stress

Around one in five employees find home life more stressful than their work life, highlighting the need for employers to take account of the impact of domestic issues on work performance, new research from MetLife Employee Benefits shows.

MetLife’s study of the impact of rising stress levels on employees shows that 19% of employees are more stressed at home than at work, with both male and female employees suffering. Around 21% of women say their home life is more stressful than work compared with 15% of men.

The research found that 67% of employees say domestic issues – including childcare, looking after elderly parents and financial pressures – are having an impact on their work performance.

MetLife Employee Benefits believes the research highlights the benefits for employers in focusing on building wellness programmes for employees and, as part of this, putting strategies in place to increase organisational resilience. MetLife’s report, Building Resilience in the Workplace, provides a range of practical steps employers can take to support their employees and reap rewards for their business.

One practical step identified in the report is enabling employees to feel comfortable about discussing home life stress with managers and colleagues – more than half (52%) of employees who say their home life has an impact on their work performance believe it would be beneficial to be able to discuss it with managers and colleagues. MetLife’s Employee Wellbeing Hub, provided as part of its ProActive Protection Group Income Policy, offers support services for managers that are designed to help them discuss challenges such as these with their employees.

However, despite the need just 46% of employees say they feel able to discuss home stress with their managers, although a higher number (61%) say they feel able to talk to colleagues.

Tom Gaynor, Employee Benefits Director of MetLife UK said: “Everyone experiences challenge and stress in life, but our study confirms that not everything is restricted to the workplace. When thinking about work/life balance, it’s important to factor in the need for employees not just to spend time away from work, but also to potentially discuss home and family problems with supportive colleagues and managers without fear of being seen as unable to cope.

“Managers have a crucial role to play in helping employees to manage their own stress and we know from our Employee Benefit Trends Study that a supportive manager is a significant driver of employee engagement. Creating a supportive leadership culture helps managers tune into employees’ emotional ups and downs.

“We believe resilience training, as part of a concerted commitment to employee wellness, can be a powerful and relatively low-cost way for businesses to significantly boost their performance.”

MetLife’s report also suggests other practical steps businesses can take include conducting a stress audit as part of an organisational health survey, as well as making sure effective internal communications are in place both to keep employees informed about business developments and to give them a way to feed back any concerns.