UK Ranked 5th Worst for “Unmanageable Stress” Globally

Bonnie Evie Gifford
By Bonnie Evie Gifford,
updated on Jul 13, 2018

UK Ranked 5th Worst for “Unmanageable Stress” Globally

Of the 23 countries surveyed, the UK had the fifth highest number of workers reporting unmanageable levels of stress

According to the latest findings in the 2018 Wellbeing Survey from Cigna 360°, the UK has the fifth most workers reporting that their levels of stress are unmanageable, putting them in the bottom ranking for mental wellbeing along with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Korea.

Over 14,000 respondents were polled from across 23 countries, with samples of 500 to 1,000 responses taken from each country depending on population size. 87% of respondents reported being stressed. And while 72% found this manageable, one in six reported feeling unable to manage their stress levels, with one in two workers globally claiming they don’t get support from their employers in dealing with stress.

Globally, while a quarter of those who had suffered from mental health condition reported receiving help from their employers, a staggering 50% claimed they felt too embarrassed to admit they had a condition.

In the UK, just one in 10 (9%) said their workplace offered a wellbeing programme compared to a global average of 22%. Despite this, 44% of UK respondents said that a potential employer's wellbeing package would affect their choice in taking a new job, with numbers increasing 53% amongst millennials. Employees reported wanting stress management healthcare benefits (35%) more than any other traditional healthcare benefit, including private dental (33%) and eye care (28%).

Over a quarter of UK respondents (26%) cited work as their main cause of stress, with other sources including finances, family and health problems. One in five believe workplace wellness programmes in place are inadequate to meet their needs.

When asked how they most commonly tackled feelings of stress, the top three responses included:

  • Talking with friends and family
  • Undertaking regular exercise
  • Getting enough sleep

Only 24% sought professional help, preferring instead to manage their own issues. When asked, respondents listed high cost and a perceived lack of effectiveness as the biggest barriers to seeking professional help.

In addition to unveiling high levels of unmanageable stress in the UK, Cigna 360°’s 2018 Wellbeing Survey looked into the hidden costs of presenteeism. Presenteeism – when an employee feels obligated to go into work despite feeling too ill to be productive – can be a major stressor for employees, as well as detrimental to employee productivity.

Seven out of 10 respondents reported still going into work when feeling ill, resulting in a 21% drop in productivity and delays to their recovery time. Millennials showed indications of being the most likely to cave to the pressures of presenteeism (73%), while only 60% of over 50s would continue to work through illnesses.

Cigna 360° highlighted the importance of health and wellness programmes to help assist employees, as well as the role managers and supervisors can play in presenting a more sensitive approach to employees' illnesses and personal issues.

This isn’t the first time reports of the UK being overly stressed and under-supported have hit the headlines in recent months. A study by Westfield Health earlier this year found 84% of healthcare employees believe their employer could do more to support the physical and mental wellbeing of employees. The Mental Health Foundation released a study in May 2018 that found 74% of UK adults have felt so overwhelmed by stress in the past 12 months that they felt unable to cope, with women aged 18-24 feeling the most pressure.

Adults aren’t the only ones feeling the pressure. An overwhelming 83% of teens reported feeling stressed, with 65% citing school as their main cause of stress.

Discover simple ways to reduce your stress and 5 apps to ease stress, or visit Counselling Directory to learn more about work-related stress, find expert advice and free resources.

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