Here’s What No One Tells You About Workplace Stress and Productivity

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Here’s What No One Tells You About Workplace Stress and Productivity

With the UK teetering on the brink of an economic recession and the fallout from Brexit still to be felt, we ought to be thinking about how we can adapt our economic and social strategies to the new realities and by doing so, harness our full human potential in the workplace.

The Statistics

Workplace stress and productivity are two areas we need to tackle. As per the Office of National Statistics (2017 release), output per worker in the UK was 16.6 percentage points below the average for the rest of the G7 nations in 2015 and the UK had below average productivity growth in both output per hour and output per worker. These figures evidence dysfunctional workplace practices as do our shameful statistics on workplace ill health due to stress.

According to the Health and Safety Executive’s Labour Force Survey (2016), work related stress, depression and anxiety is a significant issue across the UK and accounts for 37% of all work-related cases of ill health and 45% of days lost. The number of days lost due solely to stress, depression and anxiety 2015/16 was 11.7 million days or 23.9 days lost per case. There is a clear warning here that companies and the way they are managed are making people sick – and these are just the documented cases. Surely the economic case alone should be hard hitting enough without considering the personal damage done to individuals?

The Human Fall-out

These worrying statistical numbers have remained static for a decade with 224,000 new cases of stress related illnesses at work being reported already this year and this number is rising. If this is the state of the national workforce, we need to be asking ourselves, our bosses and our organisations, “What are we doing about it?”

The ‘Third Sector’, comprising of social firms, charities and community interest companies seem to understand more than most the need to ensure that the ‘human element’ is put front and centre of governmental and business practices, as they are dealing with the fall-out from our historical lack of insight into the value of human capital, as is the NHS. ‘Productivity’, ‘absenteeism’ and ‘long-term sick leave’ are catchwords and phrases that are bandied about in business and press reports but those who pick up the pieces of those whose health and livelihood have been seriously affected – their voices are seldom heard. Acute stress in the workplace needs to be tackled now and a new era of “healthy” business culture needs to become a reality for all of us.

Human value

That pesky ‘human element’ has a massive impact on productive output. We need to understand the difference between hours worked and quality hours worked, how responsibility and autonomy should go hand in hand and how enlightened and progressive management practices have an important role to play in getting the balance between profit and people right. We must not forget that our national productivity level is the direct result of our collective human effort and if our results are poor and we know why, then we need to change the way we do things and begin to build more resilient environments in which both individuals and businesses can thrive. The same factors apply in creating a healthy business landscape as apply in creating a healthy working environment for people. The productivity of both is dependent on achieving a sustainable level of security, diversity, innovation, creativity, collaboration and trust.

Start the Change

MHScot Workplace Wellbeing CIC is committed to playing its part in helping to guide organisations both big and small toward developing healthier and more productive workplace environments. Our courses, workshops and awareness raising sessions aim to develop managers and frontline staff with the skills to identify and sensitively manage potential workplace stress and mental health issues in those around them and will give them the confidence to engage with a range of situations in which they can play a positive role. We form part of the solution.

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Written by MHScot Team Member, Sonia Last

Views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in our blogs belong solely to MHScot.