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A journalist with 13 years of experience on trade publications covering construction, local government, property, pubs, and transport.
February 19, 2018

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Half of British worker absence due to stress

Half of employee absence is due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety, according to a new survey.

The study of 3,000 British workers by employee engagement firm, Perkbox, revealed 59% of workers experienced stress – and only 9% said they never had work-related stress.

It also showed one in five experienced moderate to high levels of stress several times a week – and long working hours effected the same amount of people.

High earners

High earning members of staff – those of more than £40,000 – were most likely to experience work-related stress (72%).

Almost two-thirds suffered from sleep loss as a result of stress – and almost half had anxiety. A third comfort ate to appease the symptoms of stress.

The figure is the highest in a decade, and follows the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)’s latest Labour Force Survey, where 49% of all working days lost in 2016-2017 were reported as being due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety.

More than one in 10 say that stress causes them to take sick days from work.

Feeling engaged

Just 3% report that stress makes them feel more engaged with their work than normal, while only slightly more (5%) believe they are more effective as a result.

Flexi-time (21%), allowing staff to work from home (18%) and organising social events (12%) are the most common things workers say their employers currently do to help alleviate their stress.

Just 8% of firms offer counselling services to staff, 6% offer stress management and/or resilience trainin,g and 9% arrange regular one-to-ones with managers.

Chieu Cao, co-founder and chief marketing officer (CMO) at Perkbox, said: Today, mental health is one of the biggest HR issues faced by UK employers, and it is by no means going away.

“How successfully workers are able to manage not only work-related stress but also that which originates at home or in their personal lives, can have a huge impact on businesses’ productivity and staff retention – and in turn, profitability and stability.”

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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Dominic Cooper
Dominic Cooper
6 years ago

The finding of this survey do not match the profile of official records. There is also no information about the survey itself! i.e reliability/ validity, survey questions, sample, etc. in other words this is just one huge marketing exercise. Read it accordingly

Nigel Dupree
Nigel Dupree
6 years ago

Glad no connection with “perceived stress” or KSi’s, or RSI’s then ? Especially as Karoshi reportedly on the rise with equally no connection with stressors and/or H&S Professionals taking one step backwards when asked to volunteer to take-on stress related practical occupational health in the chain of causation in foreshortening working life-cycles as health deficits lasting longer than 12 months and longer latency NCD’s take their tole on being able to sustain or even conserve performance and productivity. Wellbeing and the hazards associated with wellbeing cannot be just ignored until manifested in more serious and debilitating Mental Health issues like,… Read more »

Terry Aldwinckle
Terry Aldwinckle
5 years ago

Very poor use of presented statistics. As Perkbox is a company who provides wellbeing services to companies you would expect them to heighlight this issue. Agree with Dominics comments below but also add bias to the list he provides. Not the sort of information I would expect HSE to be sharing.