POSTED: April 30 2019
‘Always on culture’ causing ‘workplace mental health crisis’

‘Always on culture’ causing ‘workplace mental health crisis’

Stress, anxiety and depression have been cited as the top reasons for work absences by a recent report with two thirds of HR professionals identifying mental health issues as main reason for absence.

Westfield Health’s inaugural Wellbeing Index found that 67% of HR managers are concerned by ‘leavism’ – working outside of contracted hours and on annual leave days – and 61% identified mental health issues as the main reasons for absences within their workforce. Over half (51%) have noticed an overall increase in sick days.

Pressure of work expectations is negatively impacting the mental health of employees, the report found. Almost a third (31%) said they feel the need to constantly stay late, 30% eat at their desk, 39% arrive early and 29% take work home, while 25% said they skip lunch altogether.

Half of employers agree that employers cannot get through everything they need to do during their paid hours, while 40% of workers said they had taken time of work due to mental health problems while giving a different reason for their absence – something most prevalent amongst people aged 16-24.

Employees (40%) said they were unable to tell the truth because they thought people would assume they were making it up and, worryingly, almost a third (31%) said they felt their company does not take mental health seriously.

“For us, it’s really important to understand where people are suffering most and how we can best work together to make improvements,” said David Capper, CEO of Westfield Health.

“Our wellbeing impacts us 24 hours a day – from the moment we wake up, to motivation at work, to how much sleep we get at night. At the moment, wellbeing is often considered in isolation, such as wellbeing at work vs. wellbeing at home, but we believe society and employers need to urgently take a collective responsibility for the UK’s wellbeing.”


The report, which surveyed 2,001 UK employees and 251 HR professionals, also found that work-related stress had become unmanageable for 28% of workers and more than a third (35%) said the same about their home life.

Only 50% said they had spent a satisfactory amount of time with their family and 40% had been active, while 25-34 year olds were most proactive, with 90% engaging with wellness activity. However, almost one fifth of people aged 45-54 had not done anything within this area.

Money, lack of sleep, physical ill-health, self-esteem and confidence were the top five wellbeing concerns for the people surveyed.

Meanwhile, 80% of employers said they have observed presenteeism in their workplace, while half of HR professional do not have measures in place to prevent employees working when sick, but 12% said they are introducing flexible working, offering paid overtime or time in lieu and having regular one-to-one meetings.

Two in five HR professional said they have seen an increase in short-term sign-off work and almost the same amount said long-term sign-off from work is on the rise.


“There is a clear call to businesses here to think about the future,” added Capper. “A culture that rewards staying late and heaps pressure on its staff will pay the costs in days lost to mental health issues due to burnout. By not dealing with these issues, not only does this have an impact on company bottom line, but it can also cause a drop in productivity levels, affect workplace morale and impact the wellbeing of other members of staff.

“Through our Wellbeing Index reports and our broader work, we hope to play our part in addressing the ticking time bomb of the nation’s wellbeing. We want to help people make small, sustainable changes that have a big impact on their wellbeing, supporting them to lead healthier lives.”


This article was first published in Cover magazine – you can read the original article here.