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One in four UK employees absent from work due to work-induced stress-related illness in the last year

  • Workplace stress sees a quarter (24%) of UK employees take time off in the last 12 months
  • A fifth of employees (21%) receive no health or wellbeing benefits at work
  • Three quarters of employees (76%) have been through a major organisational change at work in the last two years
  • Only half (49%) of UK employees trust what senior leaders say

 

Across the UK, workers are suffering from stress brought about by their jobs, and this in turn is leading to increased sick days, according to the latest Britain at Work report from reputation management consultancy Lansons, and insight agency Opinium.

Employee wellbeing is of course important in its own right, and employers know that it can be a crucial determinant of their productivity and success. However, the 2016 Britain at Work report, a study of the modern UK workplace released today, shows that around a quarter of UK employees, equivalent to 6 million people, have taken time off work in the last 12 months due to stress brought about as a consequence of doing their job. 

In addition to this, the Britain at Work report reveals that more than one in five (21%) of employees surveyed said they do not receive any health or wellbeing benefits from their organisations, representing a real risk of knock-on effects to wider society as people require mental and physical support from state-funded sources.  Less than half (45%) say their organisation is supportive of those with mental health problems (a scant improvement from 44% last year), and one in six (14%) claim their organisation is actively unsupportive in this area.

Missingworknohealthbenefits

Scott McKenzie, Director of Lansons’ Change & Employee Engagement practice comments: “A quarter of people off because of stress is staggering, and that’s just in the last year.  Not only does this affect the wellbeing of the employee and their families, but employers will eventually feel the impact both on business performance, and on other employees who need to pick up the workload. Employers have a duty of care to provide appropriate support to their employees in order to address these issues.”

Organisations in flux

The report also found organisational change is a constant in an increasing number of employees’ lives – three quarters (76%) have been through at least one significant change in the last two years – that’s over 20million employees across the country*.  The most common changes reported (by 48%) were an overhaul of IT systems and processes, changes to pay and pension terms (48%), and an organisational restructure (46%) .   Many do not feel they are sufficiently supported through what can be very difficult periods – only half (51%) said they were kept well-informed of changes and challenges facing their organisation, and a fifth (20%) said communication regarding significant changes was ineffective.

Organisationalchangenotwellcommunicated

These statistics are perhaps explained by a lack of management skills and training that have been uncovered by the report.  Whilst 92% of those in management roles said they have the necessary skills and knowledge to manage people effectively, 39% of the group say they haven’t received any form of management training, and only half (53%) were assessed on their people management skills before being appointed to their role.  Against this, 34% of employees say they need more support from their manager.  The gap in managers’ perception of their own ability and the reality goes some way to explaining why only half (49%) say they trust what senior leaders in their company say.

Scott McKenzie continued: “Change is an inevitable part of the modern workplace, and that’s certainly not a bad thing. However, it is crucial that it’s managed and communicated properly, or employees feel disengaged and undervalued.  Management need to be able to inspire trust, particularly in periods of change.  Employees who feel unsupported and disoriented by change, and are poorly led and managed, are unlikely to feel able or willing to improve their performance at work.”

The report also explores issues including pay and reward, career progression, and pride in company and industry, to draw a complete picture of what motivates (and de-motivates) UK workers today.

James Endersby, managing director of Opinium, added: “Using insight and data to inform future business decisions is absolutely vital for businesses across the country.  Today’s results give us a solid picture of the UK workforce as a whole and there are some really important takeaways for employers – particularly now as employment is at a ten year low.  The job market is more competitive than it was a couple of years back, and we know that around a third of employees are likely to be looking for a new job in the next year.  Employers who want to retain staff should be paying attention.”

For a full copy of the Lansons Britain at Work click to download here.

The report was launched on 14th April at Bloomsbury House, London.

 

About the research:

* 20,357,440 = 76% of the UK workforce.

6,374,462 = 24% of the UK workforce.

Methodology

This study is based on an online survey conducted between 11 and 21 March 2016 amongst 3,002 UK employees working for an organisation. The results of the survey have been weighted to nationally representative criteria (gender, age and region):

Demographic highlights

53% of workers surveyed are male 47% are female

45% are aged 35-54

14% come from the South East

15% come from London

10% from the North West

76% work full time

55% work in the private sector 39% work in the public sector

49% work for large organisations (250+ workforce)

76% have no connection with a trade union

23% have been in the same job for +10 years

13% work in Education

11% work in Healthcare 10% work in Retail / Wholesale

28% earn between £15K and £25K/year