A new report has revealed that one in four employees have taken time off work in the last year due to stress-related problems, a figure that has been described as an employee stress ‘time bomb’.
The report, titled “Breaking the Cycle”, which has been published by health and wellbeing provider BHSF, warns that stress-related issues are having a major impact on workplace productivity and that more than half of employees feel unable to approach their employer about their problems.
The report specifically highlights how a potent combination of professional and personal stress triggers are leading to significant mental health and absenteeism issues, with finances (31%), job stresses (26%) and family life (19%) being the greatest contributors to absenteeism.
Brian Hall, Managing Director of BHSF Employee Benefits says: “This report paints a devastating portrait of how professional and personal stress triggers are directly leading to mental health issues and absenteeism on an unprecedented scale, which is, unfortunately, being chronically under-estimated by employers and is a potential time bomb under workplace productivity.
“Employees and their employers are caught in a vicious cycle, which begins with a gradual build-up of stress, both inside and outside work, leading to job performance issues, absenteeism and ultimately long-term sick leave.”
The report highlights how productivity is being impacted when employees go into work despite suffering from illness or mental health issues – this is otherwise referred to as ‘presenteeism’. In fact, nearly two thirds (63%) of the UK’s working population say that stress keeps them awake at night, leaving them physically and mentally unable to perform their duties.
What’s more, 58% have admitted going into work despite suffering from health or stress issues and more than half of the working population admit that they feel pressure from their employer to quickly return to work in the event of illness.
However, the findings also demonstrate that the stigma of stress or mental health issues is still very much alive within the workplace. 53% of respondents admitted that they would not approach their employer with a mental health issue and only 17% benefit from employer mental health initiatives.
“The continuing reluctance to approach employers with stress or mental health issues is hiding the true scale of the problem. Many of the issues that contribute to stress are outside an employer’s direct control, but those issues are clearly having an impact on productivity and employee performance.”
One of the key areas of concern highlighted in the report is the lack of a financial safety net for many employees in the form of income protection or sick pay insurance, with 71% of respondents admitting that their company offers no support, above and beyond statutory sick pay, and more than 80% have no personal sick pay or income protection policy.
The Breaking the Cycle report is available from the BHSF at bhsf.co.uk/employeestress.