Two fifths of employees under 'excessive pressure' at work

More employers might be taking notice of staff health, but firms are struggling to implement well-being strategies.

by Rebecca Smith
Last Updated: 27 Jan 2016

Businesses these days talk a lot about employee well-being but a new CIPD study has found they still have a lot of work to do.

Some pressure at work can serve as motivation, but 38% of workers said they were under ‘excessive pressure’ at work at least once a week and 43% said long hours were part of their organisation’s culture.  

It would seem that part of the reason for these stats is the difficulty firms are having with implementation. The CIPD said only 8% of organisations in the UK have a standalone well-being strategy as many opt for one-off initiatives rather than introducing something sustainable. 

Cary Cooper, the CIPD president, said nearly 40% of all incapacity benefit at work (claimed by those carrying out permitted work), is due to ‘the common mental disorders of depression, anxiety and stress, now the leading causes of sickness absence and driver of presenteeism’.

Read more: Why wellness at work may not be healthy

So how to make it more of a concern for both company bosses and policymakers? Building a persuasive business case for employers will often include rolling out the figures – a CBI survey in 2013 pegged it at £14bn a year, while the CIPD says the overall annual median cost of absence per employee is £554. Though as is often the case with these types of figures, it may not demonstrate the total impact of employee absence.

It’s difficult to totally gauge the full impact of indirect costs like lost productivity and lower employee morale on top of the direct costs. The CIPD also found less than two-fifths of employers analyse the cost of employee absence.

Rachel Suff, a policy adviser at the CIPD, said, ‘The cost of inaction is staggering, yet the gains that can be made from a proactive and holistic approach to well-being are equally impressive.’

It's worth noting that the jury is still out on the effectiveness of corporate well-being programmes and whether they work any better than the status quo though.

The CIPD suggests companies should focus on changing reactive approaches into 'preventative and proactive' ones. Equally, the government has a role to play and could help by introducing human capital management reporting standards for FTSE 350 organisations, covering workforce investment, recruitment and retention costs and employee engagement scores. 

These may not be enough to radically transform how employees feel at work and transforming a company culture often takes time, but they'd at least be a start.

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