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February 23, 2022

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‘76% of travel & transport workers surveyed now suffer from ‘pleasanteeism’’, according to new research

A decline in wellbeing is having a significant impact on the sector, with pleasanteeism driving up absences – 43% of workers surveyed admit to taking days off due to feeling like they have to put on a brave face at work.

PleasanteeismWhat is pleasanteeism?

‘Pleasanteeism’ – the pressure to put on a brave face – is on the rise across the travel and transport sector, as 76% of workers surveyed admit to feeling like they have to put on a brave face in front of their colleagues regardless of how they’re really feeling.

According to new research, released by Lime Global, the provider of affordable and accessible whole of workforce health and wellbeing solutions, pleasanteeism is up by 25 percentage points from May 2021 – when (51%) of travel & transport workers admitted to suffering from this phenomenon.

With more workers masking how they really feel than ever before, pleasanteeism is having a significant impact on the productivity of travel & transport businesses. Findings from the research revealed that 43% of employees have taken time off work due to feeling like they have to put on a brave face.

In fact, on average, workers in the industry take 2.55 days off per year as a result of this brave face culture. Across the entire UK workforce, pleasanteeism could therefore be accounting for as many as 67 million[1] days lost each year due to this phenomenon alone.

If left unaddressed, this could become a catastrophic problem, affecting absenteeism levels across an industry disseminated with labour shortages as a result of the pandemic – with shortages projected at 205,000, equating to 1 in 8 unfilled vacancies.[2]

Not only is this driving up absence rates, but workers also revealed that having to put on a brave face at work impacts their ability to do their job effectively, with 29% of those in the industry who feel like they have had to put on a brave face admitting that they have been unable to concentrate at work or had an unproductive day.

Cost of living and stress at work top concerns contributing to pleasanteeism

Despite travel & transport workers putting on a brave face, behind closed doors it’s a different story with a quarter (21%) saying they are struggling to cope at work, and 3 in 10 (23%) not coping in everyday life.

A number of factors are contributing to people feeling this way, in particular 30% admit to being stressed at work, while 27% are worrying about money and the rising cost of living, and 19% are concerned about issues in their personal lives.

Better support and benefits for every employee

Findings from the research demonstrate that more can be done to tackle pleasanteeism and the negative impact that it is having on workers and business productivity. In fact, 49% of travel & transport workers revealed that their expectations of their employer to support their mental health are higher now than they were before the pandemic, however they expect this support to be offered to every member of staff. 65% of surveyed workers said that they believe benefits should be offered to the whole of a company’s workforce, not just the select few, while 41% said that it’s unfair that healthcare and wellbeing benefits aren’t currently offered to the whole workforce in their company.

Shaun Williams, CEO & Founder, Lime Global Ltd, commented: “After two years of stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic, concerns over health and wellbeing are understandably on the rise among travel & transport workers. It’s therefore vital that companies act to offer each one of their employees as much support as possible. Not only is it the right thing to do, but amid a backdrop of economic uncertainty, low productivity and staff shortages, it will be crucial to help drive down absenteeism and protect businesses’ bottom lines.

“Providing access to inclusive healthcare benefits – that are designed to make a tangible impact – combined with a company culture that supports an open dialogue around the challenges that people are facing, are key steps to producing a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.”

Many workers also said they would welcome small initiatives from their employer including mental health days off (23%), and greater flexibility in working hours (21%). While 22% said they would like their employer to be more mindful of their workload and work/life balance.

Dr Ben Littlewood-Hillsdon, Medical Director at HealthHero, commented: “No one’s health or resilience should be taken for granted, particularly during difficult periods such as these. Acting to prioritise our own wellbeing and that of our colleagues, doesn’t always require a lot of work – the first step is to create space to have an open conversation, ask questions and make it clear that there will be no negative repercussions from talking about the challenges people are facing.

Everyone’s health and resilience are equally important, employers really will reap the rewards if they take time to consider and support the wellbeing of each member of their team, that’s the key to building a stronger and more successful UK workforce.”

[1] Research conducted by Censuswide 22 to 24 November 2021, surveyed 2,049 UK full time employees. Censuswide abides by the MRS code of conduct.
Data used for UK worker calculation;

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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