ResearchBurnout is a workplace epidemic: Statistics reveal downstream impact of SMEs who lack wellbeing strategies

UK small businesses struggling to respond to health and wellbeing needs of employees amid high stress and anxiety.
Content Team4 weeks ago7 min

Small businesses employ more than 16 million people and make up half of the UK’s economy, yet new research from leading healthcare brand, AXA PPP healthcare, has found eight out of ten (82%) SME business leaders don’t have health and wellbeing strategies in place.

The findings come as a stark warning for small business leaders as the same research polling 1,500 people who work in SMEs found two-thirds (67%) report experiencing job-related stress or anxiety and just 15 per cent believe their company provides a culture which supports their mental health.

Less than a quarter of workers (24%) see a GP because they worry about taking time off work

The research also found nearly half (46%) of employees working in small and medium sized businesses continue working when they’re feeling unwell and less than a quarter (24%) see a GP because they worry about taking time off work.

One-fifth (18%) feel guilty for taking time away from their desk for lunch

But it’s not just coughs and colds keeping hard-working adults from leaving their workload behind. One-fifth (18%) feel guilty for taking time away from their desk for lunch and more than a quarter (27%) send and receive emails outside of work hours, suggesting an ‘always on’ mentality could be contributing to the  health issues stacking up for many small businesses.

Failure to prioritise the health and wellbeing of employees is a real business risk – says Liz Earle MBE

Speaking at the second instalment of The AXA Growth Leaders Series, hosted by The Supper Club, wellbeing expert and entrepreneur, Liz Earle MBE said failure to prioritise the health and wellbeing of employees is a real business risk.

Need for wellbeing strategies

“Whether you’re leading a multi-national organisation or a small start-up, your employees are the most valuable asset. Leaders who support and enable a wellbeing-focused workplace can enjoy a more productive and profitable business. It’s often been said that if you look after your people, they will look after your customers, which drives your bottom line. But it’s also important for business leaders to note that you can’t look after your employees – or your business – if you don’t look after yourself.

“Leading by example and embedding good wellbeing habits in the workplace is incredibly important. In small businesses leaders are often more visible among their team and can create the positive environment that helps their people thrive,” she added.

Burnout: a workplace epidemic

AXA PPP healthcare CEO Tracy Garrad said the research highlights why health and wellbeing can no longer be ignored or treated as a ‘nice to have’.

“Burnout is now recognised by the World Health Organisation as an occupational phenomenon. It’s becoming a workplace epidemic that poses significant risks for small businesses.

“While it’s encouraging that 41 per cent of small business leaders polled said they’d like to have a health and wellbeing strategy, more needs to be done to move the dial and change perceptions about health and wellbeing measures being the sole preserve of larger organisations.

“The reality is small businesses make up more than half the UK’s total workforce and their employees are crying out for greater support,” she said.

The benefits employees thing they get/would get from a workplace health and wellbeing strategy

To see more content on wellbeing strategies and burnout, click here


To listen to the official podcast of Liz Earle discussing how businesses can make health and wellbeing work, click here.

Content Team

Work in Mind is a content platform designed to give a voice to thinkers, businesses, journalists and regulatory bodies in the field of healthy buildings.

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