Half of employees suffer workplace stress and anxiety during summer


Almost half (48%) of employee respondents experience workplace stress and anxiety over the summer months, according to research by Westfield Health.

The Wellbeing index report, which surveyed 2,014 UK employees and 250 HR professionals in June 2019, also found that 37% of HR staff feel that their organisation does not do enough to prepare for employees’ holiday absences.

Linked to this, 11% of employees respond to calls and emails when on holiday, while 36% feel that their manager expects them to be on standby during annual leave. The research also found that 17% of employees’ time on holiday is spent worrying about work.

David Capper (pictured), chief executive officer at Westfield Health, said: “Employees are experiencing a vicious cycle of stress and anxiety that is having a detrimental impact on their wellbeing in the run up to, during and after they come back from their summer break, leaving them no time for vital recovery.

“Almost half of employees agree they’re suffering, with the under-34s identified as the group most at risk and, worryingly, it shows no sign of slowing down; since we released our first Wellbeing index report in April [2019], the amount of overtime has increased by 23% and on average, employees have taken four days off for stress, anxiety or depression.”

Seven in 10 (70%) of respondents who are working parents suffer from stress before or during the summer holidays. Overall, 43% of respondents stated that they have spent quality time with their family in the past three months, but 28% admit that balancing friendships, relationships and work has taken a toll, while 23% describe their mental health as poor.

Almost two-fifths (37%) of employees say money has been their biggest concern over the last three months, compared to 34% who cite a lack of sleep.

Capper added: “The state of the nation’s workplace wellbeing is at boiling point, with over a third of employees saying their workplace culture does not successfully support them with their wellbeing.

“When thinking about how to avoid burnout and prioritise recovery time in the workplace, it can be tempting to just look at initiatives such as flexible working or working from home. But the answer also lies in workplace culture; there’s limited benefit in implementing strict rules on leavism if senior leaders aren’t visibly living, breathing and prioritising those values.

“Cultural change takes time and requires input from people across the organisation. When employees see leaders practicing what they preach, it creates the psychological permission to mirror that behaviour. Creating an open culture also allows employees to speak openly about how they’re feeling, allowing managers to identify issues early and avoid a situation escalating to burnout.”