Monday, 11 June 2012 11:40
Yet stress is likely to cost them thousands of pounds every year in absence and lost productivity.
A quarter of small business owners in the UK do not feel confident they would be able to recognise and address ill health, stress or depression among their staff, according to Bupa research published today. Yet stress is likely to cost them thousands of pounds every year in absence and lost productivity.
It is estimated that mental health problems such as stress cost the UK economy £26 billion a year in absence, presenteeism and staff turnover, and in a small business environment, absence can create additional stress for those employees left picking up the additional workload. However, two in five small business owners admitting they never speak to employees about their physical or mental health
Just under a quarter of small business owners confess they would rather not speak to anyone about a problem raised by an employee than seek professional advice on how to deal with it. It seems that many employers feel that this is an invasion of privacy - the most commonly cited reason for not addressing staff health anxieties.
The research showed that one in three bosses believe it is ‘none of their business’ to get involved in the situation. Despite this, absence due to work-related stress remains a problem for UK business, with 10.8 million working days lost in 2010/11, according to figures from independent health watchdog, HSE.
55 per cent stated they regularly discuss the weather with an employee but only one in four would discuss an employee’s health, sparking concern that employers do not feel well-equipped to tackle these trickier, personal conversations.
Tony Wood, Sales and Marketing Director at Bupa said: "Stress is a huge issue for small businesses, with owners and employees alike often taking on multiple roles and committing massive emotional investment into the business. The pace at which many small businesses have to work, especially in a struggling economy, means that health can be overlooked in the drive to get things done.
"It’s never easy to tackle personal issues with employees, but a workplace environment that champions open lines of communication can prevent issues from snowballing. A big challenge is addressing the stigma often attached to any form of mental illness, particularly in an economic environment where there is uncertainty on job security."
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