The impact of a pressure-filled summer season is causing more than half of UK employees to experience chronic workplace stress, or ‘burnout’, according to the second Wellbeing Index Report released today by health and wellbeing provider, Westfield Health.
The report, which analyses the state of the nation’s wellbeing at work and home, highlights a sharp increase in worrying statistics including the rise of ‘leavism’, whereby employees work outside of contracted hours or whilst on annual leave. Over one in 10 (11 per cent) of employees admit to responding to calls and emails whilst on holiday, 36 per cent believe their boss expects them to be on standby during annual leave and shockingly almost a fifth (17 per cent) of holiday time is spent worrying about work.
David Capper, CEO of Westfield Health, commented: “Employees are experiencing a vicious cycle of stress and anxiety that is having a detrimental impact on their wellbeing in the run up to, during and after they come back from their summer break, leaving them no time for vital recovery.
“Almost half (48 per cent) of employees agree they’re suffering, with the under 34s identified as the group most at risk and, worryingly, it shows no sign of slowing down; since we released our first Wellbeing Index Report in April, the amount of overtime has increased by 23 per cent and on average, employees have taken four days off for stress, anxiety or depression.”
This mounting pressure isn’t helped by the fact that well over a third (37 per cent) of HR professionals surveyed say their workplace doesn’t do enough to prepare for staff holidays and the inevitable decrease in staff in the office over the summer months.
From an employee’s perspective, increased workloads when colleagues are on holiday combined with busy summer social schedules mean personal wellbeing is suffering. Less than half (43 per cent) say they have spent quality time with family in the past three months and over a fifth (23 per cent) describe their mental health as ‘poor’, with the impact of balancing friendships, relationships and work (28 per cent) taking its toll.
Based on NHS guidelines, one in five admit they had not done anything in relation to their wellbeing in the last three months and only 36 per cent had been physically active. The biggest concern for employees over the last three months was money (37 per cent), closely followed by lack of sleep (34 per cent). Physical ill health and mental health also ranked as top concerns.
On top of these worries, working parents have the added pressure of childcare and entertainment in the summer holidays. Over a third are concerned about not having enough disposable income to keep their children entertained, with an overwhelming 70 per cent of working parents experiencing stress before or during the summer break.
Capper added: “The state of the nation’s workplace wellbeing is at boiling point, with over a third (34 per cent) of employees saying their workplace culture does not successfully support them with their wellbeing.
“When thinking about how to avoid burnout and prioritise recovery time in the workplace, it can be tempting to just look at initiatives such as flexible working or working from home. But the answer also lies in workplace culture – there’s limited benefit in implementing strict rules on leavism if senior leaders aren’t visibly living, breathing and prioritising those values.
“Cultural change takes time and requires input from people across the organisation. When employees see leaders practicing what they preach, it creates the psychological permission to mirror that behaviour. Creating an open culture also allows employees to speak openly about how they’re feeling, allowing managers to identify issues early and avoid a situation escalating to burnout.”
To read the full Wellbeing Index Report visit westfieldhealth.com/wellbeingindex.