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Stress impacts 45% of UK workers

Posted on 21st September 2022

Almost half (45%) of the UK workforce say poor mental health and stress are causing their work to suffer, according to the ADP® Research Institute’s People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View. 

The figure is even higher among 18-24-year-olds (53%) and 25-34-year-olds (52%), but even the resilient boomers aren’t really ok, with 26% of 55+-year-olds suffering from stress.

The survey, which polled almost 1400 workers, comes as other studies show that COVID itself–not just the stress of health worries and lockdowns, but the actual infection–can worsen people’s risk of mental illness.

The mental health charity Mind says a third of young people and adults report their mental health has become “much worse” since March 2020.

What causes stress at work?

In the UK, 14% of workers say they experience stress at work at least once a week, with 19% saying they’re stressed every day.

The most common cause of workplace stress is increased responsibility caused by the pandemic, with 32% of employees saying they’re under stress because of this.

27% cite the length of their working day as a leading cause of stress, 23% cite problems with technology (for many, this is probably connected to a recent transition to home working), and 22% are stressed about their job security, which may also be a result of COVID.

And the pandemic is also behind other causes of stress: 8% of UK employees are stressed out by being asked if they’re vaccinated, and 7% are stressed about having to share their workspace with someone they also live with.

What can managers do?

The good news is that 64% of workers do feel supported by their managers around mental health at work, and the exact same percentage (64%) say they feel supported by their colleagues. While this figure still has plenty of room for improvement, 78% of employers are already working on it, proactively looking for new ways to support their employees’ mental health.

Topping the list of initiatives employers are trying are: checking in or communicating with employees more (31%), allowing wellbeing days off (21%), and offering stress management breaks such as meditation classes, wellbeing activities, access to a zen room, or extra breaks during the day (19%).  

17% of employers are offering employees access to special counselling, and 20% are allowing them the right to disconnect from messages after working hours.

“It’s encouraging to see so many employers being creative about how to ease the burden of mental health issues and stress among their staff,” says Sirsha Haldar, General Manager of ADP UK, Ireland & South Africa. However, unless the causes are identified wherever possible and dealt with, the impact of all these well-intentioned schemes could be undermined.”