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2 November 2016

Quarter of workers have complained of stress at work but received no support

Figures released in the fourth annual Employee Insight Report from Capita reveal that one in four workers (26%) say they have complained to their employers about feeling stressed but have received no support.

With new statistics released on National Stress Awareness Day, the report shows stress is prevalent among the vast majority of UK workers, with three quarters (75%) saying they have felt stressed at some point over the past 12 months – more than a quarter (28%) say they feel stressed on and off throughout the year, while 5% say they feel stressed ‘all the time’.

The in-depth report also shows most people (56%) would not feel comfortable talking about taking time off for issues such as depression or stress with their fellow workers, suggesting stigmas remain around mental health concerns.

Drawing on interviews with more than 3,000 people in employment, the Employee Insight Report assesses the financial wellbeing of the nation, and looks at employees’ attitudes towards pensions, retirement, benefits, savings and health in the workplace.

The findings reveal:

  • Just 33% would feel comfortable talking to their employer if they have a mental health issue.
  • 41% of employees believed that if a colleague was suffering from stress they should not come into work, with just 21%
  • But employees are bad at taking their own advice – 77% of employees say they have not taken any time off as a result of feeling stressed.
  • Older employees were more sympathetic than younger employees, for instance 28% of 25-34 year olds felt stressed colleagues should still come into work, compared to 13% of over 55 year olds.

The report suggests presenteeism is also an issue for employees: 63% said the last time they were ill they came into work anyway. Furthermore, 70% of employees say they feel less productive if they come into work whilst ill.

Almost half (49%) of employees say they were worried work would stack up in their absence if they felt under-the-weather and took time off. Just 20% disagreed.

In addition, 51% said they were scared they would be judged badly by colleagues if they took too much time off.

Higher earners find it harder to completely switch off from issues at work even when they went on holiday, with 46% of employees earning over £45,000 saying they struggle to switch off, compared to 32% of employees earning less than £25,000.

Almost half of workers (43%) say they believe their employer has a responsibility to help them manage their personal health and wellbeing.

With half of people saying they would still go to work while ill to avoid having work stack up in their absence, it’s clear that employers have a significant role to play in supporting the personal health of their staff, which should include mental health. Significantly, three-quarters of employees say they have not taken any time off work due to stress.

Yet our research reveals there is still a reluctance to talk about stress related issues in the workplace, with stigma still attached to mental health and many feeling too uncomfortable to discuss stress with their bosses. For National Stress Awareness Day, we are urging employers to make sure they are doing all they can to make sure their workers feel they have somewhere to turn if they are suffering from stress at work.

Alistair Dornan

Head of health management, Capita Employee Benefits

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