Around a quarter (26%) of respondents feel that their organisation does not help them to manage stress in the workplace, with 36% stating that they have had ongoing workplace stress for the past five years, according to research by Peldon Rose and The Stress Management Society.
The survey of 950 UK-based individuals also found that 64% have poor or below average mental wellbeing, based on the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale; this uses seven questions to explore individuals’ emotions, quality of interpersonal relations and psychological functioning. Two-fifths (41%) of respondents were found to have poor mental wellbeing.
Approximately half (48%) of respondents have taken a day off work because of their mental health. This rises to 53% for respondents aged between 35 and 50, compared to 43% of respondents aged between 18 and 34.
Jitesh Patel (pictured), chief executive officer at Peldon Rose, said: “This new research is an urgent wake up call for employers to start assessing what their people and businesses really need to be healthy and productive, and start addressing the concerning levels of stress [among] the nation’s employees.”
Over half (56%) of respondents cite increasing or heavy workloads as their main cause of workplace stress, compared to 46% who believe having limited time to focus on wellbeing impacts their stress levels and 37% who blame poor, slow or outdated technology.
With this in mind, 49% of respondents want their employers to introduce a yoga and meditation room to help them manage stress, 50% want access to exercise facilities at the office, 42% wish employers would provide quiet working areas and 38% want their organisations to implement breakout spaces. Currently, 54% of respondents feel that their employer does not support mindfulness or meditation.
“[Employees] are appealing to employers to help them to build time into their working day to focus on exercise and wellbeing and to provide the right office environment to facilitate this. Employers must listen, stand back and introduce the necessary, bold, new changes that will transform the culture and mental health of their workforce,” Patel added.
The majority (95%) of respondents think that their physical work environment is important for their wellbeing and mental health; however, 51% also believe that their current working environment does not have a positive effect. Less than half (49%) feel their current environment does not positively affect their wellbeing, compared to 47% who see no positive impacts on their mood and 43% who do not note any improvement in productivity.
More than half (52%) of respondents, on the other hand, feel that their office environment does support them to take regular breaks, 37% believe it encourages them to exercise and 26% think their office encourages them to meditate.
The research further found that 75% of respondents occupy sedentary roles and 36% work nine or more hours a day.
Neil Shah, chief de-stressing officer at The Stress Management Society, said: “I am a massive believer that going to work should make [employees] healthy. Most organisations want to reduce or mitigate the amount of stress or poor wellbeing [caused for] employees; how about turning that on its head, so [that] going to work boosts [staff] wellbeing and is good for [their] mental, physical and emotional state?
“As the pressures and demands of life just keep increasing, and the pace of life continues to accelerate more and more, people are finding themselves overwhelmed. The consequences of this are far-reaching, both to the individual, the team and the organisation. It is clear that if we want our organisations to succeed and thrive we need to focus on our most important asset, our people. Aligning people, culture, wellbeing strategy with the physical environment is critical to the success of this. There is no one-size-fits-all solution; we want to see more organisations offering different and innovative ways to give people the culture and physical space to maximise their wellbeing.”