August 31, 2017

"A third" of the UK workforce suffers from anxiety, depression, or stress at work

"A third" of the UK workforce suffers from anxiety, depression, or stress at work

A new study has suggested that more than one in three UK workers (34%) have a health and well-being issue—and that employers may not be taking the problem seriously.

The findings, from a survey of 2,000 workers by consultancy PwC, suggest that health and well-being issues (of which anxiety, depression, and stress are the most common) are having a substantial impact on employees’ performance. Two in five (39%) have had to take time off work or reduce their responsibilities as a result, with 83% reporting that their well-being influences how productive they are.

Despite these impacts on output, the findings suggest that companies may not be paying enough attention to this problem. Close to a quarter of employees (23%) reported concerns that their employer was not taking their well-being seriously, with more than one-half (54%) working for a company that offers no health benefits such as counseling, health screening, or subsidized gym memberships. The survey results also show that of those who had to take time off work due to their health, 39% did not feel comfortable telling their employer about the issue.

Respondents to the survey reported that pressures such as dealing with customers and clients, and long hours have the biggest impact on workplace well-being.

Jo Salter, director in PwC’s people and organizations business, said: “It’s becoming increasingly important for organisations to provide employees with support for their emotional and physical health at work. Healthier and happier staff perform better, stay in their business longer, and reduce costs and risks for organisations. Understanding and addressing the root causes of employee well-being is the first step to resolving the underlying issues.”

In his article The economics of mental health, Richard Layard suggests that the combined effect of mental health problems in the UK is to reduce national income (gross national product) by 7%: “almost as much as most countries spend on education.” He continues that, by comparison, “Psychological therapy is a remarkably good bargain. For each dollar or pound spent, roughly an equal amount is saved on welfare benefits and an equal amount on physical health care… Yet health care commissioners and insurers in the UK, the US, and elsewhere regularly see psychological therapy as an easy area to cut. They need to know that every time they do this, it costs rather than saves money.”

Read related articles on health and well-being.

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