Many workers are stressed, fatigued

The biggest health problems experienced by Irish workers are stress, anxiety and fatigue, a new survey has found.

According to the findings, these are followed by back pain, neck pain and colds.

The survey of 350 business managers and 463 employees in Ireland revealed that while many people are stressed and fatigued, the vast majority would not discuss this with their boss.

It also found that employees would like to see more benefits and health initiatives in their jobs, such as more flexible working hours, private health insurance and gym membership discounts.

Meanwhile, a majority of employees admitted that working in a pressurised environment has now become the norm, with two in three admitting to working over and above what they are paid for at least once a week.

At least half of employees also admitted to working through lunch.

“This research gives us an insight into wellness economics and the reality of working life today. Apart from the challenge of really tough trading conditions, the lines between work and time off have become blurred by technology.

“The challenge for business organisations in this always-on environment is to be aware of the pressure it puts on their workforce and ultimately on their business performance,” commented Prof Ciaran O’Boyle, director of the Institute of Leadership at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

The survey also highlighted the increasing problem of presenteeism, whereby people come to work when they are sick and unable to function properly.

“Researchers have found that presenteeism can cut individual productivity by one-third or more. This has a negative impact on the effectiveness of organisations and the wellbeing of the workforce. Presenteeism, unlike absenteeism, is difficult to detect,” Prof O’Boyle noted.

He said that the challenge facing managers today is how to increase productivity without compromising the health and wellbeing of their workforce.

“Chronic stress impairs both physical and mental health and is an increasing phenomenon in today’s fast paced organisations. The leadership challenge is to foster resilience in the workforce in order to create organisations that can respond to challenge without diminishing the wellbeing of employees”, Prof O’Boyle added.

The survey was carried out on behalf of Aviva Health Insurance.

Thu 12/09/2013 by Deborah Condon