Almost 3 in 5 SME Workers Say They Regularly Feel Stressed


Data from Drewberry’s 2021 Employee Benefits Survey, which questioned 2,000 workers at UK SMEs, found that employee stress continues to be a major concern. 58.3% of workers said they regularly felt stressed.

However, the proportion of stressed workers has only increased marginally from our previous survey. Back then, 55% of respondents admitted to regularly feeling stress. This is despite the public enduring a pandemic, multiple lockdowns and the associated economic fallout in 2020.

Mass changes to working patterns could be behind a lower-than-expected rise in stress levels. For example, 56.3% of workers who normally work in an office are now working from home. Of these workers, 39.3% said their mental health improved as a result.

Why Are Staff Stressed?

Still, bosses cannot afford to ignore the fact that almost 3 in 5 workers are stressed. Stress itself is a health condition that can cause sickness absence. It can also lead to other mental health concerns, such as anxiety or depression, not to mention manifesting itself physically.

It’s therefore important to understand not only that staff are stressed, but also to consider the causes of this stress. Only then can employers tackle their employees’ stress levels head on.

According to Drewberry’s workplace stress statistics:

  • Work was a cause of stress for 61.7% of employees
  • Money caused stress for 52% of workers
  • Their own mental health was a cause of stress for 38.5% of respondents.

It’s also interesting to see the changing causes of stress compared to our previous survey.

Mental Health & Work Issues: The Biggest Jump In Causes of Stress

For example, stress due to mental health rose by 22.5 percentage points compared to previously. Meanwhile, work as a cause of stress rose by 17.8 percentage points and, perhaps unsurprisingly given the pandemic, stress about physical health rose by 12.7 percentage points.

How Can Employers Tackle Workplace Stress?

To tackle the top three causes of stress — work itself, money and mental health — employers need a decent strategy. If you don’t take action early, you risk a rising tide of sickness absence due to stress and worsening mental health issues.

Even where staff can manage to come to work despite stress, they may not be working as effectively compared to the output of a well member of staff.

Although money worries are second on the list for workers, for many businesses it’s understandably not possible to give across-the-board pay rises at this time.

However, there are ways to help tackle work-related stress and reduce stresses due to mental health. Indeed, benefits that help manage workers’ health and wellbeing were the type of benefits workers said they’d most like to see.

So what options are there in this area?

Which Employee Benefits Do Your Staff Want?

Arguably the easiest benefit to offer your staff (plus it’s free!) is also the one that’s in the most demand. More than half (50.8%) of workers said they wanted to see their employer introduce flexible hours.

After flexible working, employees wanted to see:

Which Employee Benefits Reduce Stress?

Given that workers want benefits that help manage their health and wellbeing the most, it may perhaps be most obvious to introduce Group Health Insurance.

This looks after workers’ physical health, offering access to fast, private medical treatment exactly when they need it. It can also help with employees’ mental health with additional psychiatric cover, which provides access to mental health professionals and even inpatient treatment if necessary.

All this means it’s incredibly popular among workers — as discovered by mobile gaming startup Trailmix, which recently introduced Group Health Insurance for its team.

However, it’s not just Health Insurance that can help employees’ health and wellbeing. Other options include employee assistance programs and additional benefits, which are often packaged with policies such as Death in Service Insurance. These can include:

  • Remote GP services, offering 24 / 7 access to a virtual GP through your smartphone — check out our director’s experience using one such service here
  • Mental health resources / virtual counselling sessions to help manage stress, from work to family caring responsibilities, and intervene early before they become larger issues for both employer and employee.

Which Benefits Can Reduce Money Worries?

Given money worries make up such a big cause of stress among employees, if you can help to tackle these that would go far to reduce worker stress. Options you can introduce in this area include:

  • Implement additional Sick Pay or Group Income Protection to minimise financial worries during times of ill health
  • Work with a financial adviser to run financial seminars / webinars covering topics from debt management to saving and retirement planning
  • Pay for employees to have an annual one-to-one financial planning session where they speak to a financial adviser about their worries and plan their finances for the coming year.

Thinking of Introducing Benefits to Combat Stress?

Overall, stress clearly weighs heavily on employees. That’s something that should in turn weigh heavily on employers if you care about your staff and want them performing at their best.

Employee benefits are a great way to reduce the stress workers face. However, implementing them can be a bit of a minefield. You’ll need to do a lot of research into your options and gather data about your workforce — and that’s just the start of the heavy lifting involved.

For help and fee-free advice arranging employee benefits for your workforce, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can reach us on 02084327333 or email help@drewberry.co.uk.

Nadeem Farid Head of Employee Benefits at Drewberry

Our experts are here to do all the heavy lifting involved with setting up and maintaining a competitive employee benefits package for your business.

Nadeem Farid
Head of Employee Benefits at Drewberry

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