Following on from Stress Awareness Day at the beginning of November, stress is in the news again with mutual health and wellbeing provider Benenden reporting that only one in five people think stress is an acceptable reason to take a day off work.
According to its research, physical illnesses were deemed more acceptable reasons for calling in sick, with vomiting (73%), diarrhoea (71%), and flu (59%) topping the list.

Last year the charity Mind also conducted research in this area and found that of those workers who had needed to take time off due to stress, just 5% admitted to their boss that it was stress related. They also found that half (48%) of respondents said they felt like their employer did not care about their physical or mental wellbeing, and 28% had to book a full day off work to see their doctor.

According to the Health and Safety Executive the total number of working days lost due to stress, depression and anxiety in 2014/15 was 9.9 million days. This equated to an average of 23 days lost per case. In 2014/15 stress accounted for 35% of all work related ill health cases and 43% of all working days lost due to ill health.

The cost to business and the economy are huge. Mind suggests the cost to the UK economy of lost output is around £100bn a year, and that nearly 10% of the UK’s gross national product is lost each year due to job-generated stress.

Clearly employers have to do more to counteract this. A business is nothing without its staff and the wellbeing of their employees should be high on their agenda – given its proven power to enhance performance and productivity.

Stress can be the result of many factors including the increased use of mobile technology which can mean employees never completely switch off, working long hours with no breaks, lack of exercise and financial worries about the future.

That’s why we take a holistic approach to well-being and our workplace financial education programme is designed to work alongside other wellbeing programmes such as health and fitness and educate people about the options they have so they can plan a secure financial future, which in turn can alleviate stress and anxiety.

By Ian Bird, Business Development Director, Foster Denovo.