UK Studies Highlight Impact of Stress on Workforce

UK Studies Highlight Impact of Stress on Workforce

Several new surveys from the UK illustrate the importance of managing against the pressure and stress employees experience at work. In one study, Marianne Calnan writes at People Management, 20 percent of employees said they had taken time off work to cope with excessive pressure:

A further 18 per cent of the 2,000 employees surveyed by the Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association (CABA) said they had cried at least once every fortnight because of their job. More than a third (34 per cent) said they didn’t like their job, citing problems such as not being paid enough (9 per cent) and a lack of development opportunities (8 per cent).

The research, released to mark Stress Awareness Day today (1 November), also found that 35 per cent of workers regularly considered leaving their job. The same proportion also said they often missed family occasions or personal engagements because of work commitments. …

A separate study from CV-Library has found looking for a new job ‘always’ or ‘frequently’ stresses out 85 per cent of employees, with a similar proportion (84 per cent) saying that stress connected with job hunting is a real problem for modern workers.

These findings come just a month after a government report calculated that mental health issues were costing UK employers up to £42 billion a year, and that every £1 an employer spends on mental health benefits generates £9 in returns. Previous studies have also identified stress and mental health challenges as major concerns for the UK workforce (and of course in the US as well). We also know that supporting employees’ mental and emotional health is an essential component of a holistic wellbeing program.

Interestingly, even though employees may be stressed out at work, employees are still more sensitive to changes in traditional benefits offerings than they are to offerings related to their emotional wellbeing. Data from our 2017 Total Rewards Employee Preference Survey at CEB, now Gartner, suggests that programs targeting stress levels—for example, emotional and financial wellness programs–drive less utility for employees than improvements in more traditional programs, such as transportation subsidies or life insurance benefits.

This doesn’t mean employers should ignore emotional wellbeing, which has an important influence on engagement, but rather that it is not foundational. When creating a plan to combat employee stress, employers should take a holistic view of all of the benefits offerings at their disposal and target the levers that their employees are most sensitive to. For example, some employees might benefit from an employee assistance program or a mental health counseling services, while for others, the best thing their employer can do to reduce their stress levels is to help them manage their debt. The best employee wellbeing programs are responsive to employees’ real needs, so finding out what those needs are is a good first step.