Work-related stress is on the increase.
Work-related stress is on the increase and it’s only going to get worse as the economic crisis deepens, and employees go in and out of working from home or working in the office/factory etc.
In 2020/21 there were an estimated 822,000 workers affected by work-related stress, depression or anxiety. This represents 2,480 per 100,000 workers.
In 2020/21 work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 50% of all work-related ill health.
In the recent years prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the rate of self-reported work-related stress, depression or anxiety had shown signs of increasing. In 2020/21 the rate was higher than the 2018/19 pre-coronavirus levels. The latest year (2020/21) is not statistically different compared to the previous year. Evidence suggests this is not related to COVID-19
Work-related stress, depression or anxiety by industry
The average prevalence of work-related stress, depression or anxiety across all industries was 1,780 cases per 100,000 workers averaged over the period 2018/19-2020/21.
The broad industry categories of Public administration and defence; compulsory social security (3,140 cases per 100,000 workers),
Education (2,310 cases per 100,000 workers),
Human health and social work activities (2,770 cases per 100,000 workers) all had significantly higher rates than the average for all industries.
Work-related stress, depression or anxiety by occupation
For the three-year period averaged over 2018/19-2020/21, Professional occupations (2,530 cases per 100,000 workers) had statistically significantly higher rates of work-related stress, depression or anxiety compared to the rate for all occupational groups (1,780 per 100,000 workers).
A number of smaller occupational groups, some part of the above bigger groupings, also had statistically higher rates (averaged over 2018/19-2020/21) including:
- Health professionals.
- Teaching and other educational professionals.
- Protective service occupations.
- Customer service occupations.
These occupations often involve high levels of public contact or interaction and many are also largely within the public sector.
Work-related stress, depression or anxiety by age and gender
The most recent data shows that compared to all workers, females overall had statistically significantly higher rates of work-related stress, depression or anxiety and males significantly lower.
Compared to all workers:
- Males aged 16-24
- Males aged 45-54
- Males aged 55+
had significantly lower rates of work-related stress, depression or anxiety.
- Females aged 25-34
- Females aged 35-44
- Females aged 45-54
had significantly higher rates.
Causes of work-related stress, anxiety or depression
Of the 822,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2020/21 an estimated 449,000 reported that this was caused or made worse by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
These estimates of the number of workers who suffered work-related stress, depression or anxiety as a result of the coronavirus pandemic should not be subtracted from the overall estimate of work-related stress, depression or anxiety. It cannot be assumed that those individuals would not have otherwise suffered work-related stress, depression or anxiety in the absence of coronavirus.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic the predominant cause of work-related stress, depression or anxiety from the Labour Force Survey (2009/10-2011/12) was workload, in particular tight deadlines, too much work or too much pressure or responsibility.
Other factors identified included a lack of managerial support, organisational changes at work, violence and role uncertainty (lack of clarity about job/uncertain what meant to do).
How to nurture a culture of self-care: top tips
Get to know your people. It is only by gaining employee insights, through various means from surveys, absence and employee benefit claims statistics to Glassdoor reviews, that you can begin to think about tweaking – or kickstarting – a fit for purpose wellbeing programme.
Join up your existing wellbeing benefits, services & initiatives. Chances are you are doing a lot already and probably have access via products like group risk and health cash plans to a whole host of wellbeing services, maybe even OH resource. Work with your providers to ensure these are structured in a way that supports immediate-use care pathways. Also link all of this to other relevant HR policies, practices and initiatives you might already have in place such as mental health first aiders and wellbeing networks.
Communicate in a way that is insight-led and purpose driven. Gone are the days of ‘throwing mud at the wall’ style communication. If you want your employees to rationally understand the support and services you have in place (and they need to, otherwise they won’t use them) and the way in which the programme supports the company’s purpose, you need to communicate in a way that is much more structured and targeted. Use employee insights and think like a consumer marketeer.