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10 October 2016

Almost half of UK workers know someone who’s had to give up work because of stress

On World Mental Health Day (10 October 2016), research from Capita Employee Benefits reveals that almost half of UK workers (44%) know a colleague who has had to give up work because of stress, while more than a third of people (36%) say that colleagues have complained about feeling stressed to their employer, but received no support.

The research also shows most people (56%) would not feel comfortable talking about issues such as depression or stress with their fellow workers, suggesting that stigmas remain and companies should be doing more to encourage their workers to open up about mental health issues.

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, like depression.
  • 75% of respondents said they have felt stressed at work over the last 12 months but only 20% have taken time off work because of stress.
  • 44% said they know a colleague who had given up work due to stress.
  • A worrying 36% said that they knew colleagues that had complained of being stressed in the past, but their employer hadn’t done anything to help.
  • 19% said their financial worries affect their work.
  • Stigmas around mental health still persist and just 31% of employees in UK would be happy to talk with their work colleagues about taking time off following mental health issues and 56% wouldn’t do it.

When asked what facilities people have access to at work if they feel stressed, 41% said they would normally keep working or wait until lunch/home time before taking time out. 30% said they can step outside for a few minutes, and just 10% said they have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) at work.

The research also reveals that healthcare benefits are amongst the most popular benefits that employers could provide staff with, with the use of wearable tech rising in popularity – a third of workers would like wearable technology to be provided by their employer to help them monitor their health. The vast majority – 70% – of employees said they felt less productive if they come into work while ill.

Capita Employee Benefits is calling on employers to take pro-active steps to provide a supportive environment to help employees who may be suffering from mental ill health.

The research was part of the fourth annual employee insight report from Capita Employee Benefits. 

“Our research reveals that a significant proportion of the UK’s working population believes employers have a responsibility towards the personal health and mental wellbeing of their staff. And yet many workers are still uncomfortable speaking to their bosses about mental health, while a worrying quarter of the population say they have complained but nothing was done.

With almost half of people (49%) 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. For World Mental Health 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 or depression at work.

Alistair Dornan

Head of health management, Capita Employee Benefits

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