“Work-related stress, depression or anxiety is defined as a harmful reaction people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work.”*
The last few decades has seen an increasing media focus on the topic of work-related stress and associated conditions such as depression and anxiety. Yet despite the increased awareness of such issues many employers have taken little positive action to help their employees better manage such challenges. This is surprising given that there is clear evidence that this topic should also be a genuine concern for all UK employers. To support this claim we would direct our followers to this report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published last month.
Some of the key 2017 findings are:
- 526,000 workers are suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing)
- 12.5 million working days lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety
- Stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 40% of all work-related ill health cases and 49% of all working days lost due to ill health
The last point is perhaps the most significant. If a high percentage of absence is directly or indirectly a result of such issues, then this is a topic that employers can surely not afford to ignore for much longer.
Yet work-related stress continues to be overlooked in so many organisations. Perhaps this sits in the “too difficult” pile, or perhaps employers just don’t know where to start? If the latter, then a look at the causes of work-related stress may suggest a useful starting point for employers. The HSE report breaks down the causes of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2017 as follows:
- Workload: 44%
- Lack of support: 14%
- Changes at work: 8%
- Violence, threats or bullying: 13%
- Other: 21%
The employer can of course play a significant role in supporting employees with all of the first four areas through strong policy, procedures, training, and the use of Employee Benefits and guidance services to support employees as and when needed.
But what of the last point?
Does “other” perhaps suggest that issues from an employee’s personal life are ultimately manifesting themselves in the workplace, and in extreme cases this may result in workplace absence? Certainly this seems likely, and the reality is that we all have periods of stress in our non-work life, and it is unlikely that anyone can truly claim not to have brought those personal issues into the workplace on occasion.
Yet from an employer perspective the cause of the problem is much less important than the steps taken to support the employee. The reality is that a mentally and physically fit workforce is likely to be less prone to periods of absence, and more able to fully engage with their job role and working duties. Such an outcome can only be a positive for the finances and productivity of their employer.
So we would encourage many more employers to look again at this issue. For more information on the Employee Benefits that can support employees in this respect please speak to your usual Jelf Consultant in the first instance.
*HSE Work-related Stress, Depression or Anxiety Statistics in Great Britain 2017
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