"Above all though we need to be thinking about the root cause of the absence, and the steps that can be taken to prevent stress from having such an impact in the first place."
Oliver Shaw - Cascade's CEO
When the research findings were published last month by the Leeds-based HR software firm, the headline statistic was that stress is now considered ‘a way of life’ for 4 out of 5 UK workers.
But in the wake of Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May), the most pressing question now is how to tackle the country’s seemingly mounting mental wellness problem.
Encouragingly, the subject was hailed as a top priority for 18% of respondents, with a further 58% admitting it is of crucial importance so they will ramp up their efforts. But with 84% believing stress affects absences within their workplace – 22% significantly – there can be no excuses for any further delay.
Commenting on the discoveries, Cascade’s CEO Oliver Shaw said: “Of the business owners and HR managers questioned, only 57% were aware of the cost of absence within their organisation. This suggests that, despite the apparent scale of the problem, there is still something of a dismissive mentality surrounding how worrying it really is and what to do about it.
“There is the outright fiscal impact of absence to consider of course, associated with reduced output, lost productivity and the need to employ temporary staff whilst also covering sick pay. But there are far wider-reaching consequences too including the detrimental effect on colleagues’ morale, the degradation of team dynamics and a potential drop in customer service. Above all though we need to be thinking about the root cause of the absence, and the steps that can be taken to prevent stress from having such an impact in the first place.”
Interestingly the Stress Report 2018 found that, of the UK workers surveyed, 40% believe their employer takes enough proactive steps to protect the mental wellness of them and their colleagues. 53% have a place they feel they could go within the workplace to help alleviate the symptoms of stress and 61% think they could speak up at work if they started to experience these symptoms.
Oliver continued: “It’s quite encouraging to see that whilst there is still a lot of work to be done on employers’ parts, employees are recognising the efforts made so far. Hopefully this is a sign that stigma surrounding stress and mental wellness is changing.
“It is important to note that employees can take steps to help themselves too. Whilst a supportive line manager is undoubtedly crucial in this debate, the research found that activities such as seeking colleague support, listening to music and taking regular breaks can also reduce the feeling of stress.
“Addressing the nation’s stress levels will be far from easy, but beyond the worrying statistics there are positive signs too, and it’s this positivity that we need to focus on, if we’re to ensure action as well as talk.”
Visitors to the CIPD’s HR Software Show at Olympia, London (13-14 June) will be able to take away a free Stress Management Checklist – a bite-sized resource which complements Cascade’s more in-depth Stress Report 2018. Packed full of actionable tips for HR professionals to consider within their own organisations, the checklist is an exclusive giveaway for HRSS delegates only.