Britain has the highest rate of people with mental health issues in the developed world claiming disability or out of work benefits a recent report has revealed. Georgia Graham, writing for the Daily Telegraph claims that British workers are among the most stressed in the world and employees unable to work because of mental health issues are costing the UK economy over £70 billion a year. The main cause of work-related mental health issues, according to the report, was unemployment and the inability to find work. This seems slightly at odds with the commonly held belief that overwork and the long hours culture in the UK is the main cause of stress and stress–related absence.
Burn-out of workers who are swamped by their workload is, of course, a problem as pointed out in the article by the BBC earlier this week about Welsh Ambulance Services. The article highlights the fact that almost three times as many staff are being signed off for stress as for a common cold or flu due to what employees feel is an excessive workload. However, I believe that employers should also be aware of the danger of under-employment of staff in the workplace which can also raise stress levels. Employees who feel undervalued and who are underemployed often fear the loss of their jobs and can feel stressed and anxious over a long period of time – increasing the risk of mental health problems.
Managers who are responsible for managing the workload of their team need to ensure they are able to spread workloads equitably and fairly and ensure employees are not compromising their mental health. Deploying the right people, with the right skills to cover the workload is vital. Whether it is an ambulance team trying to save lives and meet their targets, a retailer who needs to make sure there’s enough coverage to meet the demands of customers at any given time, or a manufacturer or distribution organisation that needs to ensure skilled workers are available to ensure production and delivery targets are met; having the right tools to plan and deploy staff to business demands and track and monitor, attendance, productivity and compliance will help managers support their staff and meet those organisational objectives.
Download the Forgotten Workforce Report
Download CIPD Absence Report 2013