There are two particular days that stand out in terms of hating work – and we may as well say it’s part and parcel of the debate around staff wellbeing. Firstly, there’s the moment you wake up early in a rush to grab the train after a holiday. It’s not surprising given that you’re swapping cocktails on the beach and quiet nights in for a commuter’s armpit to the face.
But there’s another spectacle that occurs most Monday mornings. “Monday Blues” is how author Alexander Kjerulf describes it: “When negative emotions such as depression, tiredness, hopelessness and a sense that work is unpleasant but unavoidable kicks in at the beginning of the week.”
It’s such a common experience that it’s been labelled a cultural phenomenon, making it easy to write off as just the way things are, Kjerulf said. “But it can be much more than just passing tiredness; it is often a serious warning sign that something is not right at work. If you were happy, you’d be excited and energised on Mondays, not tired and depressed. Is staff wellbeing really one of business’ top priorities at this point?”
The feeling starts Sunday evening, prevents you from sleeping and has you enter the office like a zombie zoning in on the coffee pot. It kills your productivity and, essentially, can affect your health. But as daunting as Monday’s are, that particular day can’t be blamed for a poor state of wellbeing – it’s your job 2,000 Brits have said. They told Beneden work had become a daunting prospect, with 87 per cent blaming the workplace for making them ill. Another 25 per cent suggested depression wasn’t the preserve of Monday mornings.
“We are a nation of hard workers, with 46 per cent saying they still go into work despite being ill,” the report said. “And whether or not ill, once in work, those surveyed confessed to having regular health issues.” Among the cited “frequent occurrences” was backache (84 per cent), eye strain (42 per cent) and migraines (27 per cent). In addition, 44 per cent reported regular stress, with 91 per cent feeling tiered constantly throughout the week. Sunday night anxiety aside, 58 per cent claimed work worries kept them awake at night. This had Helen Smith, business development director at Benenden, suggest it’s thus unsurprising our working lifestyle attracts criticism – and, of course, there’s plenty of research to back her statement up.
What criticism does the UK face over staff wellbeing?
Our wellbeing programmes just aren’t cutting it. The UK is facing a shift in demographic that will bring with it significant health challenges – people are living longer and will be working well into their 60s and 70s. This is according to Rachel Suff, public policy adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, who claimed “older employees have less short-term absence but they are more likely to have developed chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Employers should factor this into staff wellbeing programmes.”
It seems we’re lacking in support for staff that truly need it. Liz Egan, the head of the Working through Cancer programme, explained: “Employers need to prepare more for the increase in people working with chronic conditions. As an example, today, around 750,000 people of a working age are living with cancer but, by 2030 this number is expected to increase to 1.7m.”
From mental health to presenteeism, we unveil what people believe is keeping a healthy workforce at bay.
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