For International Stress Awareness Week, 5th – 9th November 2018, a new nationwide survey of the country’s employees has revealed that two-thirds of employees (64%) have ‘poor’ or ‘below average’ mental wellbeing according to the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (SWEMWBS).
The research, conducted by The Stress Management Society and commissioned by workplace consultants, Peldon Rose reveals a stress epidemic amongst the country’s workforce with over a third (36%) of people saying their workplace stress has been on-going for the past five years.
With three-quarters (75%) of people in a sedentary occupation and a third (36%) of people working nine hours or more a day, employees are increasingly aware of the detrimental impact their long hours and physical inactivity is having on their mental health and almost half (46%) state a lack of time to focus on wellbeing and exercise is a leading cause of stress in their workplace – only behind increasing workloads (56%).
Understandably, employees are calling for businesses to take a radical new approach to help them tackle stress; half of workers are calling for the introduction of a yoga and meditation room (49%) and exercise facilities (50%) in the office followed by heating and ventilation (44%), quiet working areas (42%) and breakout spaces (38%).
- Mental wellbeing: Two-thirds of employees (64%) have ‘poor’ or ‘below average’ mental wellbeing; 41% have ‘poor’ mental wellbeing according to the SWEMWBS scale.
- Time out: Half of all workers (48%) say that they have taken a day off work for their mental health. Middle aged workers (35 – 50) are particularly likely to have done this with 53% saying they have compared with 43% of younger workers (18-34)
- Causes of stress: ‘Increasing or heavy workloads’ (56%), ‘limited time to focus on wellbeing’ (46%) and ‘poor, slow or out-of-date technology’ (37%) are the leading causes of workplace stress
- Workplace solutions: 95% state their physical work environment is important for their wellbeing and mental health but half say their current working environment doesn’t have a positive effect on their mental health (51%), wellbeing (49%), mood (47%) and productivity (43%)
- Time to change: A quarter of respondents (26%) feel that their organisations do nothing to help their employees manage stress in the workplace. Only half (52%) say their office environment supports them to take regular breaks, a third (37%) that it encourages them to exercise and a quarter (26%) that it encourages them to meditate.
 The Short Warwick & Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (SWEMWBS) is calculated through seven questions about an individual’s emotions, quality of interpersonal relationships and psychological functioning over the past two weeks. A score of 24 or below is ‘below average’, 64% of survey respondents had a score of 24 or below, 41% had a rating of ‘poor’