Could Employee Benefits Help Alleviate Stress In The Workplace?

Recent research has revealed a significant proportion of employees have experienced stress in the workplace. Meanwhile, separate research shows that in-work employee benefits can help alleviate dissatisfaction at work.

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[Related reading: COVID-19’s Impact On SME Mental Health]

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Half Of Employees Under ‘Excessive’ Stress

Levels of stress in the workplace are significant, with almost half of UK employees (47%) saying they have experienced “excessive” stress in their roles over the past year. As a result, one in eight (13%) said they had actually considered quitting their jobs, while nearly one in 10 (9%) actually did, new research has found.

According to the 2021 Mental Health, Stress and Quitting Smoking Study by vape kit retailer Vape Club, nearly a third (29%) of people had taken time off work — in the form of paid sick leave, holiday or unpaid leave — for mental health reasons.

The poll of employees from 500 different companies found that 8% had taken paid sick leave, while 4% were forced to have time off in the form of unpaid leave. This reality suggests there are often inadequate provisions in place for employees who are suffering from stress in the workplace.

The survey focused on four key sectors of the economy: healthcare, teaching and education, retail, and transport and logistics.

It found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that three in five healthcare workers experienced excessive stress at work over the past year. A quarter (25%) of these workers took time off work in the form of statutory sick days or unpaid leave for mental health reasons. Almost the same percentage again (24%) had actually considered quitting their job due to stress, while 9% had actually done so.

The Vape Club survey was published ahead of National Stress Awareness Day on 3 November.

Pay Rises & Better In-work Benefits Needed To Retain Staff

Meanwhile, separate research has highlighted that it’s not just stress that is taking its toll on employees.

According to a report by think-tank Autonomy and corporate governance consultancy Pensions & Investments Research Consultants, 41% of workers in the three sectors hit hardest by labour shortages – logistics and transport, hospitality, and social care – are considering leaving their jobs in the next 12 months. 

When quizzed on the factors causing dissatisfaction in their current roles, 55% of respondents cited low pay, while 48% said they felt as though there are better opportunities elsewhere. 42% said they feel their job is bad for their mental health.

Moreover, working hours are also a concern, with almost a third (31%) saying long hours are a source of dissatisfaction and 30% cited unpredictable working hours.

When asked about what could keep them in their roles long term, almost three quarters (73%) of workers said they want a pay rise, while 41% want better in-work benefits and 39% want a shorter working week with the same remuneration.

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[Related reading: Personalised Employee Benefits Could Help Tackle Employee Mental Health Decline]

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With a significant proportion of employees experiencing stress in the workplace and many others saying a pay rise would help keep them in their role, the importance of employee benefits is amplified with every passing month.

Whether it’s financial protection products, such as group income protection and group critical illness, or incentives that seek to alleviate stress and boost mental health, such as counselling through Employee Assistance Programmes, offering the right employee benefits is key for employers that want to support their employees’ wellbeing.

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Author: Gill Adams - Head of SME Growth