If there is one subject on everyone’s mind, it would be the importance of employee wellbeing. Employees’ health and wellbeing at work is a rapidly changing landscape and one that people can no longer ignore. Furthermore, wellbeing in the workplace is something that both businesses and employees benefit from, as we show in this article on why wellbeing is important at work.


Why is staff wellbeing important? Seven workplace stress statistics

We’ve hand-picked seven statistics on workplace stress to share with you, which will begin to highlight why staff wellbeing is important.

79% of us are often stressed at work

A recent survey by our friends at Perkbox revealed that, out of all British adults in employment, 75% commonly experience work-related stress.

This has increased by a worrying 20% since 2018.

12.8m working days are lost due to stress

Research by HSE found that 12.8 million working days were lost in 2018-19 due to stress, depression and anxiety.

Women are more stressed.

The report by HSE also highlighted that females had significantly higher rates of work-related stress, anxiety and depression. The results show that the rate of women suffering from work-related stress is over 25% higher than that of men.

1 in 5 of us call in sick due to stress

Research commissioned by charity Mind found that 1 in 5 (19%) of us take a day off due to stress. What’s even more interesting is that a staggering 90% give a different reason for their absence out of these people.

24% of line managers believe employee wellbeing is not their responsibility

A study by professional services firm Deloitte revealed that only 76% of line managers believe the wellbeing of their team is their responsibility.

So that’s 24% of line managers that still don’t think that staff wellbeing – including minimising stress – is in their hands.

The most significant cause of stress is workload.

HSE’s research also revealed that workload is the most significant cause of workplace stress, sitting at 44%. This comes far above things like workplace bullying, violence and having lack of support.

45% say their workplace does not have anything in place to help with stress

Perkbox’s in-depth report from 2018 also showed that almost half (45%) of UK workers say there is nothing in place to alleviate workplace stress and support mental wellbeing.


Work-related stress alone can cost up to $300 billion a year, and companies now recognise that poor wellbeing at work creates massive economic and productivity losses.

According to the Global Wellness Institute, the workplace wellness market is valued at an estimated £34 billion. And although the market has been steadily growing over the past few years, “the market is small in comparison to the massive economic burden and productivity losses associated with an unwell workforce and widespread worker disengagement.”

But, the real estate industry is catching up, including office real estate. According to the 2018 Global Wellness Economic Monitor, over 740 wellness estate and community developments are either built or developed in 34 countries. The sector is expected to grow 8% in the next five years.

This means that companies across the globe are aware of the importance of employee wellbeing and that we require a new approach to wellness. In the US alone, the cost of unwellness at work reaches an estimated £1.5 trillion annually, representing 12% of GDP. Work-related stress alone can cost up to £215 billion a year.

Human beings spend most of their time in built environments. Full-time employees spend as much as 38% of their weekday at work, which is why the workplace can contribute to or detriment a person’s physical and mental health.

Therefore, companies should prioritise addressing emotional, social, mental, and physical wellbeing at work. There are various benefits to workplace wellness programs and initiatives. First, offering wellness programs shows that a company cares for its staff. One way to demonstrate this is by providing comfortable workspaces (the top 3 workspace wellness detractors are no break time, lack of fresh air, and lack of privacy).


Why is wellbeing important in the workplace?

Here are eight telling statistics that highlight the extent of the problem with employee wellbeing and why staff wellbeing is important.

1) Up to 300,000 people with mental health problems lose their jobs each year

This is much higher than the rate of job loss among those with a physical health problem. An article by the BBC cited the example of one worker who, after telling her boss about her depression, became the subject of office gossip. Finally, after several anxious months, she left.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said: “Opportunities are missed to prevent poor mental health and ensure that employees who may be struggling get the support they need.”


2) 89% of workers with mental health problems report an impact on their working life

A survey by CV Library found that 14.1% of workers consider themselves to have a mental health problem. This increases to 26.9% amongst under 18s.

Of the respondents reporting mental health problems, 89% said that these affect their working life. Nearly half of all respondents said they have considered resigning from a job because it impacted their mental health.


3) 91,000 NHS staff have taken at least a month off work due to stress since 2014

These figures show a 19% increase in long-term stress-related absence over the same period. And the total number of employees who took time off due to mental health problems was 204,573. Of these, 46,301 were nurses, making them the most stressed group.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: ‘Many NHS staff undertake emotionally demanding roles, helping others through moments of extreme need. Addressing mental health issues in NHS workplaces, including stress, is therefore essential.’


4) Just 13% of employees would be comfortable talking about mental illness at work

A 2017 poll by the charity Time to Change found that workers would rather talk to colleagues about sex or money worries than a mental health problem. However, when asked to select from a list of important issues they felt they could discuss at work, 36% said they would talk openly about a physical health matter, 26% about money problems and 18% about sex – while just 13% selected mental illness. This indicates that there is still a widespread stigma around the topic of mental health.

A BBC article cited the example of Northumbria Police worker Natalie, who battled depression in silence, fearing the consequences.

“At work, I tried to carry on because I didn’t want to give up, I didn’t want to be defeated, and I was ashamed as well. I was apprehensive that if I said, ‘I’ve got depression and anxiety,’ that would affect my career and my job prospects for the future.”

5) Last year, poor employee mental health cost UK employers £42bn…

Staff turnover, sickness and lost productivity resulting from poor mental health cost UK employers £42bn last year. This reinforces the fact that employers also have a strong financial incentive for doing so in addition to the moral argument for looking after employees’ wellbeing.

On the upside, many employers are aware of the importance of wellbeing at work and taking proactive steps to improve their employees’ wellbeing. The Mind Workplace Wellbeing Index Awards highlights some of the positive actions taken by organisations in mental health.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May acknowledged this but called on companies to go further: “Many employers are already creating healthy, inclusive workplaces, but more needs to be done so that employers provide the support needed for employees with mental health conditions.”


6) That’s around £1,300 for every single employee

The per-head cost of poor mental health sheds stark light on the extent of the problem. This sum is likely to outweigh the cost of implementing a mental health programme, staff training or more inclusive company policies. And, speaking of wellbeing initiatives…


7) Mental health programmes can generate a return on investment of up to 800%

Not only can workplace wellbeing programmes reduce stress, anxiety and mild-to-moderate depression once they occur, but they can also act as a preventative measure. Every £1 spent can yield an ROI of up to £9 for employers.

Public Health Matters recently highlighted that preventative programmes provide reasonable returns for the economy as a whole – around £2.37 for every £1 spent.

8) 95% of employees calling in sick with stress give a different reason

Mental health issues are the number one cause of sickness absence in the UK. Around half of all long-term sick leave in the UK is due to stress, depression and anxiety. Worryingly, 95% of employees who call in sick with stress give a different reason.