Workplace Wellness

The research on work-related stress is staggering. Add the escalating hysteria surrounding COVID is further exacerbating stress-related illness and therefore
employees needing to take time off to deal with rising anxiety levels.

As an employer, it’s your duty to ensure the physical and mental well-being of your staff. Failing to do so can be a costly mistake, not only with the cost to the business due to sick days and a decrease in productivity but it in some instances, it can result in HR/Employment legal case which is extremely costly to the business, let alone time-consuming, a drain on the resource on your HR team, or the management team and company owners of small businesses, but if the employee wins, then the damage from negative publicity could be irreversible.

The rise in stress-related illness has become so prevalent, that there are Personal Injury law firms actively seeking clients to make claims against stress in the workplace. This is further substantiated with articles such as ‘Dealing with workplace stress – your legal rights’ making headlines in The Guardian. Though not easy to prove, it’s still something businessese and employers should be mindful of when it comes to the wellbeing of their workforce.

According to HSE, the 2019-2020 figures are staggering:

  • 828,000 of workplace illness due to stress, anxiety and depression. 
  • This represents 2,440 per 100,000 workers 
  • Results in an estimated 17.9 million working days lost
  • And accounted for 51% of all work-related ill health and 55% of all days lost due to work-related ill-health.

As a business, these are statistics you can no longer afford to ignore.

Surprisingly, the most affected are 25-34 year-old women. 

The graph below shows stress-related illness can affect on the business of all sizes, though large companies do have to be most vigilant.

The general practitioner’s network (THOR-GP 2013-2015) identified an analysis of work-related mental ill-health cases by precipitating events. They concluded that workload pressures were the predominant factor, in agreement with the LFS, with interpersonal relationships at work and changes at work significant factors
also.

If these statistics haven’t been enough to scare you, this doesn’t even include the data for Work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WRMSDs)!

  • An estimated 6.9 million working days were lost due to WRMSDs, an average of 14 days lost for each case.
  • WRMSDs represent 29% of all days lost due to work-related ill health in Great Britain in 2018/19.
  • Within the total number of 6.9 million days lost due to WRMSDs, Work Related Upper Limb Disorder account for around 2.6m of days lost
  • Back disorders around 2.8m of days lost
  • Lower Limbdisorders 1.5m days lost.

If the above statistics have piqued your interest, head to the full HSE article on our website for Stress, depression and Anxiety and Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorder.pdf

The Actual Cost to your Business

According to Chris Parke, CEO and Co-founder, Talking Talent; the costs to both individual and business performance are rising as a result. Work-related stress and mental illness accounts for over half of work absences – and costs British businesses an estimated £26 billion per annum. In addition, studies have revealed that 460,000 people transition from work to sickness and disability benefits a year, which costs employers £9 billion a year.

What Can you do to Protect your Employees and your Bottom Line?

It’s all sounding like doom and gloom isn’t it? It need not be. With the explosion of interest in personal well-being, mental health and self-care, there are some alternative practices which are getting front-page interest in the media. Think of them as the 3 Ms:

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Meditation
  3. Massage

A Google Trends search (1 & 5 years) shows that massage is by far the most preferred alternative therapy when if comes to managing stress levels. The only ‘blip’ was in March 2020 when the UK went into its 1st lockdown. However, despite the fear and uncertainty on the safety of close-contact services, such as massage, had a minimal impact on the public. The graph shows that massage steadily rose back to almost the same level as pre-lockdown. This may have been higher as the impact of the loss of income should also be considered in these figures. 

Google Trends Search Results for Stress Management 2019 - 2020

Source: Google Trends Dec 2019 – Dec 2020