Our recent Mental Health in the Workplace Report revealed that more than four in ten (42.4%) employees suffer from stress. When we asked them to share the underlying cause of workplace stress; the top three reported reasons were:

  1. Increased workload (38.2%)
  2. Financial concerns (17.9%)
  3. Workplace bulling (9.5%)

Given that more than half (55.3%) said their job has become more stressful in the last five years, we think it’s important that these issues are addressed now before they spiral out of control. Below we will address each issue and suggest some practical steps employers and HR managers can take towards resolving the cause and minimising employee stress in the process.

  1. Increased workload

Of the employees we spoke to, increased workload was by far the biggest cause of workplace stress with almost four in ten (38.2%) naming it the leading cause. Other relating causes were also cited including hitting deadlines (8.7%), managing people (4.2%) and managing clients (3.7%).

An unmanageable and increased workload can leave employees frazzled and feeling like they aren’t achieving anything. The end result is burnout which the Mental Health Foundation agrees can affect employee mental health:

 “The pressure of an increasingly demanding work culture in the UK is perhaps the biggest and most pressing challenge to the mental health of the general population.”

To avoid that, here are some ways you can help stressed employees manage a heavy workload:

  1. Financial concerns

Nearly two in ten employees we spoke to said financial concerns were the leading cause of workplace stress. A further 6.8% cited job insecurity as their top concerns, which may well be linked.

It’s not surprising that many employees are stressed about money; the average UK household owes £12,887, before taking their mortgage into account. And unsecured debt as a percentage of household income has reached 27.4%, which is the highest figure in eight years. The NHS states that feeling low or anxious is a normal response to struggling with debt. And Mind is keen to point out the catch 22 situation: “Money and mental health are often linked. Poor mental health can make managing money harder and worrying about money can make your mental health worse.”

So with that in mind, here are some practical steps you can take to help your employees’ financial situation:

  1. Workplace bullying

Almost one in ten employees said workplace bullying was the number one cause of workplace stress. Bullying can have devastating consequences; the Workplace Bullying Institute states that victims can suffer from a whole host of very serious mental health issues including anxiety, panic attacks, depression and PTSD.

Unfortunately, workplace bullying is commonplace with some estimates of those affected as high as 75%. Bullying is clearly bad news for employee wellbeing, but it also costs business money too. It’s estimated by ACAS that bullying-related absence, staff turnover and productivity costs businesses around £18 billion a year.

Here are some strategies you can use to put an end to current workplace bullying and stop it happening in the future:

By taking the top three causes of workplace stress and analysing them, it’s clear that they each affect employee mental health. An increased workload leads to higher stress levels which can result in burning out. Serious financial concerns can threaten an employee’s basic needs and leave them sleepless with worry.  And workplace bullying can leave the victim dealing with all sorts of complicated mental health issues.

Of course, these are only the top three causes of workplace stress. In reality, it is often a combination of issues which take their toll on employee mental health. As such, a more holistic approach to managing employee mental health is required and the first step you can take is to create a clear policy on the topic. This will go a long way towards establishing an ongoing culture of openness around mental health.

As our report shows, currently less than one in ten employees suffering from a mental health condition would confide in their employer. To address this, employers need to make it clear that discussing mental health is important and nothing to be ashamed of.  Managers should communicate that talking about mental health will lead to support and not discrimination. This could be achieved through normalising conversation around mental health in the workplace and actively encouraging discussion.

If you’d like to learn more about employee mental health and what you can do to help, download our free Mental Health in the Workplace Report


Benenden is a not-for-profit health and wellbeing organisation, offering award winning employee healthcare, an extensive range of onsite health assessments and a business health cash plan. 

To find out more about our products and how we could help your business, visit www.benenden.co.uk or call  0800 414 8179.

This content originally appeared on Benenden’s workplace hub where employers can find a range of related articles to help with their health and wellbeing strategy

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