Study reveals high impact of stalled economy on wellbeing of workers

27th March 2013

The latest study by mutual healthcare provider, benenden health, reveals the impact of high redundancy fears on the wellbeing of UK workers.

Whilst the average UK adult’s professional life consists of six jobs, 12 pay rises and one office romance, unpredictable economic woes can mean that the average worker will endure at least one period of unemployment or redundancy.

And most will survive three periods of stress caused by long working hours and unmanageable workloads, or friction with other colleagues or the boss.

The findings emerged in a detailed study of British workers, which shows the average person will experience 125 sick days, turn up late for work 188 times and brave 10 job interviews.

Additionally, workers will have 875 grumbles about other colleagues or the boss, and three major bust ups during their career.

Paul Keenan, Head of Communications at benenden health, which conducted the study of 2,000 workers, said: “We hear how UK workers are working longer and harder than ever before but this health check of the average UK adult’s working life confirms what we feared.

“Within an average career span, you’re likely to find reasons to grumble 14 times a year yet will only change jobs once a decade – perhaps because the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side.

“Heavy workloads and disagreements with colleagues can all take a heavy toll on our well-being and many of us are seeing this spill over into our home lives.  This is coupled with the ongoing threat of redundancy whilst the UK economy struggles to get back on track.

“Employers can take on the lion’s share of the responsibility. For example, if days lost to sick leave are on the rise, they can review how they can provide employees with a caring approach to sickness absence management.”

The study shows that just a third of employees are truly happy with the way their career has worked out so far.

Five in 10 adults have already had genuine reasons to worry that they might lose their job, which in turn affects their happiness and contentment in the role.

As a consequence, 45 per cent say their performance at work was affected, half claimed their mental health was affected and 25 per cent said this led to a strain on their marriage or relationship.

Four in 10 people admit the demands of their job have had a negative impact on family life and relationships – indeed, the average worker will go through a rough patch with their partner at least twice during their working life.

A third of those polled admit they sometimes lose the balance between their work and personal life – letting long hours take over.

And for 29 per cent, the stress of work and the impact it has had on their personal life has led to them seeking medical help.

Heavy weight loss or gain, relationships ending, missing quality time with the children, arguments with a partner, tiredness and drinking too much are all cited as the consequences of holding down a stressful job – and can lead to Brits seeking medical help.

Financial stability is a big concern for many adults; despite an average starting wage of £10,983.50 and 12 pay rises over the course of 62.5 years, people still struggle to cope with the rising cost of living.

Indeed, most workers will work their way through two long periods of financial worry, before seeing light at the end of the tunnel.  For 34 per cent of people this means finding a second job to make ends meet.

Interestingly, modern British workers are now likely to have at least one period during their working life where doctors will sign them off with stress.

But engineering workers will have the most pay rises over the course of their career getting 10 boosts to their salary over their working lifetime.

Those in hospitality have the least amount of pay rises getting just five in total.

The culture and sport sector were also found to be the most likely to have an office romance as well as take more sick days than any other industry.

And the jobs in media and publishing are most likely to have an effect on your family life and personal relationships, while the legal profession was found to have the least impact.

Paul Keenan continues: “There are small positives - for example, those losing control of a work-life balance are still in the minority. But with over third of people needing to find second jobs, maintaining this balance will become a losing battle.”

Breakdown of Results:

Number of different jobs 6
Number of companies worked at     6
Pay rises      12
Major bust ups / arguments    3
Small disagreements / grumbles 875
Office romances 1
Cups of tea / coffee 45,500
Sick days 125
Late for work   188
Periods of unemployment 1
Job interviews 10
Periods of serious financial worries 2
Redundancy 1
Periods of stress 3
Relationship strain due to long hours  2
Signed off work with stress  1


The nationally representative survey of 2,000 Brits was carried out by market researchers on 18th March 2013.


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