12% have taken time off due to work-related stress

More than one in ten (12%) of respondents have taken time off due to work-related stress, according to research by Canada Life Insurance Group.

Paul Avis

Its research, which surveyed more than 900 employees, found that more than a quarter (26%) of respondents admitted to taking time off work when they were not ill.

Nearly one in five (19%) of respondents said an incentive scheme to reward attendance would avoid absenteeism, while 10% would be most dissuaded from taking unnecessary sick leave by having a better employee benefits package that makes them feel valued and cared for.

The research also found:

  • 23% of respondents felt they had to call in sick because they had a family emergency but did not want to use annual leave.
  • 9% of respondents wanted time off but instead called in sick because their employer made them feel guilty about taking annual leave.
  • A further 9% of respondents pulled a sickie because they had a hangover, while 12% turned to unnecessary sick leave when they wanted time off but had run out of annual leave.
  • 24% of respondents agreed that greater flexibility around working hours would most dissuade them from taking unnecessary sick leave, while 16% said a better work-life balance or reduced workload would do so.

Paul Avis (pictured), marketing director at Canada Life Group Insurance, said: “There is a big difference between calling in sick because of a hangover and doing so because of more serious problems such as stress or being overworked.

“While it is unlikely employees will repeatedly pull a sickie for trivial reasons, failing to address underlying issues such as workplace stress and an unhealthy work-life balance will undoubtedly result in recurrent patterns of absenteeism.

“This will then have a significant negative impact on business productivity.

“Employers must ensure that their organisation’s culture doesn’t lead to employee burnout.

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“A positive approach to using annual leave and a mature dialogue about flexibility in working hours is more likely to ensure employees remain happy and healthy. 

“A better employee benefits package will also ensure staff feel valued, as well as providing services such as employee assistance programmes that can help with more serious wellbeing issues.”