Excessive stress leads to higher absenteeism and presenteeism

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Employees with high levels of stress have almost double the amount of absenteeism and more than twice the amount of Presenteeism, with 53% blaming stress levels on inadequate staffing.

The Global Benefits Attitudes Survey was conducted by Towers Watson and surveyed 22,347 employees across 12 countries, with 2,030 in the UK. The survey covered large non-government workplaces and covered all job levels.

Rebekah Haymes, senior consultant and wellbeing specialist at Towers Watson said: "The research clearly shows the destructive link between high levels of stress and reduced productivity. A third of respondents said they are often bothered by excessive pressure in their job and this can lead to higher instances of disengagement and absenteeism - clear indicators of low productivity in the workplace."

Highly stressed employees were more likely to be absent, taking an average of 4.6 sick days per year compared to 2.6 sick days per year for low stressed employees.

According to the research, absence levels are also influenced by stress with highly stressed employees taking an average of 4.6 sick days per year compared to 2.6 days for low stressed employees.

Presenteeism - the act of attending work when unwell and unproductive - was 50% higher for highly stressed employees with an average of 16 days per year versus around 10 days for employees claiming to have low stress.

Of the senior managers surveyed only 15% thought staffing levels were a cause of stress in their organisation. Technology which made out of hours working possible was thought to be the top cause of stress in their organisation, for 34% of employers however only 8% of employees viewed it as a contributing factor.

Haymes said, "Wellness is about promoting changes in behaviour and encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Companies could take more responsibility for educating employees about the benefits of better sleep, physical activity, good nutrition and a work life balance in order to keep employees healthy, happy and productive. Some companies are making great progress in this area and are already starting to see the business benefits of having a healthy workforce."

The survey also revealed high stress to cause lower productivity and engagement. Rates of employees attending work unwell and unproductive, was much higher for highly stressed employees who reported 16 such days a year on average.

By contrast employees with low levels of workplace stress reported only 10 Presentee days a year. Of highly stressed employees, 57% reported being disengaged, compared to 10% of low stress employees, with half of this group reporting they were highly engaged.

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