Stress related illness is now the most common cause of long-term absence from the workplace. According to the latest CIPD report almost a third of all companies reported an increase in stress-related absence over the past year, and a similar number of companies claimed an increase in mental health problems. Only twelve percent of all organisations stated that stress related absence had reduced.

‘Workload remains the most common cause of stress at work’

The most common causes of stress related problems in the workplace comes from dealing with an increased workload, that is closely followed by longer working hours. Other common issues are family and relationship problems at home, with management style and relationships at work also being citied.

As has been the case for previous years, just over sixty percent of organisations are working with employees to help reduce stressful situations in the workplace. Currently only half of all organisations invest in training for managers to help identify and deal with stress within their teams, with that number reduced (up to 4x) when offering support for employees that are suffering from stress.

Just over forty percent of companies state that they have had an increase of mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, in the last 12 months, with only eight percent showing a decrease. Larger companies are more likely to report an increase in mental health issues, a company with more than 5,000 staff stating they have seen an average increase of seventy three percent. As with stress, the most common factor with mental health are long working hours and operational demands taking precedent over the well-being of staff.

‘As with stress, increases in mental health problems are somewhat related to a long hours’ culture and a lesser focus on well-being.’

Similar to stress, only a low number (30%) of organisations provide training to help managers support their staff if they are suffering with mental health issues. With only five percent of companies stating they have a standalone employee mental health policy.

The most common methods used to promote and support mental health issues are flexible working hours, employee assistance programmes, improved work/life balance and counselling. These options are particularly common in larger organisations.

More than fifty percent of respondents to the survey agreed that their company is effective at supporting staff with mental health issues, but only two fifths agreed that their company actively promotes mental health awareness, which shows that many companies still need to be proactive when it comes to promoting good mental health.

An absence management system can help you spot trends with sickness and help you recognize if employees are having issues within the workplace. This lets you become proactive with staff absence and sickness as you can pin point an increase in absence types or trends which could be due to issues within the workplace, for example stress or anxiety. This gives you the opportunity to address any issues before they become serious which benefits your employees and your organisation.

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