Stress is not recognised in small businesses


By Daniel Hunter

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.

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.

With two in five (41 per cent) small business owners admitting they never speak to employees about their physical or mental health, Bupa has launched a new service, Bupa Stress Management, to help business owners to identify the symptoms of workplace stress, raise issues with staff, and design and implement their own stress management policy.

The service has been launched to help employers who are reluctant to discuss stress concerns with employees. Just under a quarter of small business owners (24 per cent) 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 (30 per cent) 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.

More than half (55 per cent) stated they regularly discuss the weather with an employee but only... continued on page two >


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