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Britain’s stressed-out workers are hurting UK productivity

UK workers are regularly losing sleep over stress at work

  • Two fifths of British workers lose sleep over work
  • A third admit letting workplace stress affect their home life
  • A fifth says stress causes them to become unproductive at work

More than two-fifths of British workers say they regularly lose sleep as a result of workplace stress, a study from Wrike, the collaborative work management platform has found.

Wrike’s Stress Epidemic Report, which polled 1,600 workers in both the UK and US, suggests stress may be a possible factor that is being overlooked when economists consider the UK’s productivity puzzle. Nearly a fifth of UK employees (18 percent) cite stress as the main cause of becoming unproductive at work. A further 31 percent of staff said that workplace stress had caused them to stop caring about their job or “check out”.

The findings of the research come as the productivity puzzle continues to hold back UK economic growth and amid calls for employers to adopt a four-day working week. Previous studies have suggested stressed-out workers who are unable to sleep properly are costing the UK economy as much as £40 billion every year, or nearly two percent of annual gross domestic product (GDP)[i].

Just under a third of UK employees (32 percent) also admitted losing their temper in the workplace due to stress, while a further 29 percent admitted stress had affected life at home.

In contrast, US workers were almost twice as likely than their UK counterparts (33 percent to 19 percent respectively) to say a little bit of stress helped them focus and complete a task and half as likely to say it caused them to become unproductive (9 percent).

Survey highlights:

  • Some company employees and managers are using up to 16 separate applications on a daily basis to manage workflow.
  • Around a third of UK workers say they can handle some stress but that their work quality suffers.
  • Nearly half of UK workers (46 percent) say they have searched for a new job because of the stress associated with their current role.
  • Just over a quarter of UK workers (26 percent) have taken unplanned time off because they have suffered workplace stress.
  • Over two thirds (67 percent) of all survey respondents reported their stress levels rose from moderate to unsustainably high. The same people were 87 percent more likely to experience higher stress levels after receiving a text or email outside of working hours from a superior compared with those who experience lower levels of stress on a day- to-day basis.

Frazier Miller, Wrike CMO commented: “A fifth of all UK employees say stress in the workplace makes them twice as likely to switch off or become less productive and that should worry business and government alike. Equally alarming is the fact that 42% of UK workers say they regularly lose sleep because of work related stress.

“If we are ever to genuinely solve the current productivity dilemma that has dogged the UK economy since the financial crisis ten years ago, mental health in the workplace has to be taken far more seriously.

“Employees and their managers are constantly bombarded with unactionable noise and inefficient processes that require long workdays and little reward. Between incessant notifications and waiting for others to get work done, productivity plummets and stress levels rise.

“One simple way to avoid such sources of stress is to streamline processes. It goes a long way to ensuring greater communication and collaboration between management, staff and across teams as well as more efficient project management.

“There is plenty of evidence to suggest that UK employees value employers that take mental health seriously. While many employers pay lip service to mental health issues, far more needs to be done to ensure the UK economy has a less stressed out and more productive workforce.”

Portia Hickey, chartered business psychologist and co-founder of employee talent analysis website, Thrive Matters, commented:

“Having worked with FTSE 100 companies and law firms, I am, sadly, rather familiar with findings from the latest Wrike report, that workplace stress is very common and has an effect on our lives outside of work.

“Many people suffer with lack of sleep as a result, which is so important for our mental and physical health. Our lives are so intertwined with work, largely due to the fact that we are more connected than ever before – the Wrike report found that some employees have to use up to 16 different apps every day – which can make us feel frantic and disengaged.”

[i]https://www.ft.com/content/6c87ad84-11bb-11e8-a765-993b2440bd73