Businesses and employees pay the price of workplace stress
Research commissioned by Mind has found that work is the most stressful factor in people’s lives with one in three people (34 per cent) saying their work life was either very or quite stressful, more so than debt or financial problems (30 per cent) or health (17 per cent).
The survey of over 2,000 people found that workplace stress has resulted in 7 per cent (rising to 10 per cent amongst 18 to 24 year olds) having suicidal thoughts and one in five people (18 per cent) developing anxiety. Stress has often caused people to resort to alcohol and drugs to cope. Nearly three in five people (57 per cent) say they drink after work and one in seven (14 per cent) drink during the working day to cope with workplace stress and pressure. Other coping mechanisms people cited were smoking (28 per cent), taking antidepressants (15 per cent), over the counter sleeping aids (16 per cent) and prescribed sleeping tablets (10 per cent).
The findings also show that a culture of fear and silence about stress and mental health problems is costly to employers. Key findings include:
- One in five (19 per cent) take a day off sick because of stress, but 90 per cent of those people cited a different reason for their absence.
- One in ten (9 per cent) have resigned from a job due to stress and one in four (25 per cent) have considered resigning due to work pressure.
- One in five (19 per cent) felt they couldn’t tell their boss if they were overly stressed.
- Of the 22 per cent who have a diagnosed mental health problem, less than half (10 per cent) had actually told their boss about their diagnosis.
- Over half of managers (56 per cent) said they would like to do more to improve staff mental wellbeing but they needed more training and/ or guidance and 46 per cent said they would like to do more but it is not a priority in their organisation.
Chief Executive of Mind, Paul Farmer, said:
‘Work related mental health problems are an issue too important for businesses to ignore. Our research shows that employees are still experiencing high levels of stress at work, which is negatively impacting their physical and mental health. We know that right now, one in six workers is experiencing depression, stress or anxiety and yet our survey tells us that most managers don’t feel they have had enough training or guidance to support them.
‘Improving mental wellbeing in the workplace doesn’t have to cost a lot. Our research shows that people whose organisations offered flexible working hours and generous annual leave said such measures supported their mental wellbeing. Three in five people said that if their employer took action to support the mental wellbeing of all staff, they would feel more loyal, motivated, committed and be likely to recommend their workplace as a good place to work.’
Mind is urging managers and HR professionals to sign up to their free webinars and resources which will focus on creating mentally healthy workplaces in tough economic times and how to support staff who are stressed or have mental health problems.
Research reference: Populus interviewed 2060 adults aged 18+ in England and Wales, in work between 6-10 March 2013