Two-thirds of staff are struggling with high to moderate levels of workplace stress, a shocking new study has found – and almost a third believe this has had a negative effect on their productivity.
The study of 2,200 employees by nationwide health provider Champion Health discovered that around 60% of workers experience anxiety - with anxious workers almost twice as likely to be female (62% of women compared to 37% male). This fits with recent data that suggests that women are less likely to ask for a payrise (67% of women did not ask for a pay rise in 2020 compared to 37% of men, according to data released Last November on Equal Pay Day), and less likely to speak up in Zoom calls than their male counterparts. Research by the Harvard Business School found that women are also more likely to shrug off praise about their achievements. It all adds up to a scenario where women feel uncertain about their position in the workplace and are therefore more likely to experience stress and anxiety.
However, women are by no means the only ones struggling at work, the Champion Health study found. It also discovered that workers aged 25-34 are most likely to be experiencing anxiety, depression and financial stress – and shockingly, more than half of all workers (52%) are experiencing symptoms of depression, with around a quarter (22%) experiencing clinically significant symptoms.
Interestingly, 56% said that they had “the perfect amount of stress to let them thrive” but 34% said that stress was negatively impacting them. 28% said that high stress was causing them to be less productive.
Alarmingly, though, 8% of those surveyed shared that they’d experienced thoughts about self-harm and suicide.
All this points to a picture of a workforce in the grip of a mental health crisis – with stress as one of the major contributing factors. It’s therefore not surprising that more than half of all UK employees would leave their jobs in favour of organisations offering better stress and burnout support, as new research by Clear Review revealed earlier this month.
Employee wellbeing is currently under the spotlight, as the Great Resignation continues and employers and HR personnel focus on ways of attracting and retaining staff. However, the Clear Review research, which surveyed 1,150 HR decision makers, managers and employees in the UK and USA, found that nearly half of all workers feel their managers don’t take any steps to help them avoid burnout.
Clearly, then, a lot of work needs to be done to make organisations take the mental health of their staff more seriously. Harry Bliss, CEO of Champion Health, says the findings of the survey are a wake-up call for businesses.
“It’s no surprise that the last two years have been extremely tough on employees and I’m really concerned about the findings of this report,” Bliss says. “What we’re seeing here is a workforce feeling the huge effects of the changes to workplaces and the heightening expectations placed upon them as individuals.”
He adds: “To address this, we need to see a quantifiable, significant step-up in the amount of investment companies make in employee wellbeing strategies so that employees are supported to overcome the struggles that they’ve faced throughout the pandemic. This latest insight shows the clear link between productivity and mental health and wellbeing. Companies can help turn this dangerous pattern around by taking several steps; and doing so goes much beyond having much happier employees. It will enable employers to retain great people who are motivated to complete brilliant work day in, day out.”