On Wednesday the 5th of November, people across the UK will be observing National Stress Awareness Day. As the event draws nearer, businesses are being asked to reflect on the true costs of failing to address stress in the workplace.
Recent studies showed that absence and drops in productivity due to stress cost the British economy millions of pounds each year.
Much of this loss comes from absence and costs from stress related illnesses, with stressed-out workers being, on average, 10% less productive compared to their contented counterparts.
According to a 2013 study by the Work Foundation think tank, the UK ties with Germany as having the second worst sickness absence rate in Europe. It’s estimated that more than 62,000 people a day are off work due to stress in Britain.
Stress does not necessarily start at work
It’s worth remembering, of course, that not all stress is workplace-related. Money concerns, family life and general health levels all play a part in developing anxiety in people, that can be transferred to the workplace.
“People have their own personal lives and don’t always leave their problems at the door,” explains Charlotte Gallagher, a HR specialist at P3 People Management. “As a nation, we’re not very good at really providing support for that.”
“The challenges each person faces are different and you have to look at what influences them as individuals. If the trouble is at home, there may be ways that the employer can help – a little time off, if needed, for example.”
Such interventions could save time and cost further down the line, where home or work worries get too much for the person concerned: time off is better than going through the expense of hiring and retraining someone new.
“Acknowledge the issues. Allow a period of ‘soft Landing’, set timeframes to allow the individual to address their personal troubles and work towards a goal of returning to work,” advises Charlotte. “It’ll be more cost-effective in the long-run.”