One in three UK employees think about quitting on a regular basis

Brits are under significant workplace strain, with workers routinely pulling sickies to deal with stress, research finds.

Research from CABA suggests that employee mental health is under threat, with more than one in three employees  (36 per cent) confessing they think about quitting their position on a regular basis.

The study reveals that 13 per cent of employees are resorting to pulling a sickie to cope with stress, with the same (13 per cent) admitting to feeling stressed at least once a day.

According to the research, employers overwhelmingly agree that taking a sick day for mental ill health is completely acceptable. The findings revealed that 94 per cent of HRs believe depression or anxiety is an adequate reason to call in sick, and over (80 per cent) believe that workplace stress is also a legitimate reason for a sick day.

By contrast, employees are reticent to admit taking time off due to workplace pressures and believe it is not an acceptable reason to call in sick.

The research shows that only 13 per cent of employees had called in sick due to feelings of stress, with 10 per cent admitting that they did not want to face up to their workload.

Employees urged to seek advice

As a result of the findings, CABA is calling for anyone who is struggling with stress or concerned about a family member or friends to seek advice.

Laura Little, learning and development manager at CABA says, ‘One in four people experience a mental health issue every year, so it is reassuring to learn that HRs agree stress, depression and anxiety are all valid reasons for employees to call in sick.

‘It’s extremely important for businesses to promote a supportive, non-judgmental ethos to encourage employees to take time off if they need it, and most importantly encouraging conversation if people are struggling.’

CABA’s research shows that 80 per cent of HR professionals agree that physical symptoms such as back or joint pain is an acceptable reason to call in sick. ‘It is a step in the right direction that mental ill health is being recognised in the same way,’ Little adds.

More than half of working Brits (57 per cent) would tell someone at work if they thought they were suffering from stress, anxiety or depression, with their line manager or supervisor (25 per cent) the most likely go-to person.

However, nearly a third (32 per cent) would keep quiet, preferring not to let anyone know. Over 55s (40 per cent) are the most likely not to tell anyone, compared to 18 per cent of 25-34 year olds, highlighting that millennials are more open to discussions about their emotional wellbeing.

Little says, ‘We often take physical illness symptoms seriously so it is great to see mental ill health being treated equally, however if employees continue to keep quiet about their worries we will find ourselves in a vicious cycle.

‘Therefore, action is needed to spread the supportive message, to ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to stress.’

Further reading on employee mental health

Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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