• 48% of UK employees have gone into work when ill in the last year
  • 40% haven’t taken a single day off sick in last 12 months
  • 28% say bosses pressure them into working through illness

sickness at work pic

The health of British workers is threatened by an epidemic of ‘presenteeism’ according to a new report, with research showing that not even lunch, holidays or illness will stop us from leaving our desks.

The study of 2,000 full and part time UK workers, published in The Health in the Workplace Report by One4all Rewards, reveals that just under 1 in 2 UK workers (48%) went into work in the last year despite being ill, and 40% hadn’t taken a single day off for illness in the last 12 months.

Unsurprisingly we are also reluctant to move away from our desks when well.  1 in 4 (23%) of us work through our lunch breaks on a daily basis and 1 in 5 (19%) regularly work during holidays, even answering calls or responding to emails.

This epidemic of ‘presenteeism’ – defined as the practice of being present at one’s place of work for more hours than is required, especially as a manifestation of insecurity about one’s job – is having a negative impact on workers’ heath says the research.

Work is a regular cause of stress for many people.  Just 17% of people say they find it easy to switch off and forget about their work at the end of the day and over one in five workers (22%) report regularly feeling high degrees of work-related stress.

In some cases is it also the direct cause of illness, with 11% of people surveyed saying that they have been unwell as a result of their jobs in the last year.

Employers wishing to retain staff and increase productivity need to help staff break this harmful habit, say experts.

Declan Byrne, managing director of One4all Rewards, comments, “Many workers believe that employers don’t care about their health.  28% of those surveyed said that they feel under pressure from bosses to go into work even when they are ill.

“Therefore, it’s important that businesses take proactive steps to help workers look after their health and wellbeing.

“Those that do are likely to see the results add to their bottom line, with greater productivity, staff retention and the ability to recruit better candidates all shown to be enhanced by company health schemes.”

To read the full Health in the Workplace report and to find out more about One4all Rewards visit the website: http://www.one4allrewards.co.uk/.

*Research carried out by Atomik Research amongst 2004 UK adults employed full/part time, aged 18+


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