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Stress and inactivity cost businesses £57bn in productivity

Written by Eric Johansson on Monday, 11 April 2016. Posted in Wellbeing, People

Pushing staff too hard sees startups lose up to 27 days of employee productivity per year, according to new research

Stress and inactivity cost businesses £57bn in productivity

Successful founders are famous for their almost superhuman schedules, massive output and ability to work hard. But while entrepreneurs may be tempted to push employees as hard as they push themselves, a new report should give business leaders pause for thought.

Conducted by VitalityHealth, Mercer, the University of Cambridge and RAND Europe, the Britain's Healthiest Workplace study revealed that stress and stationary lifestyles can be more detrimental to staff productivity than smoking, poor diet and alcohol consumption. Based on a survey of over 32,500 workers, it discovered that 73% of UK employees suffer from work-related stress, leading to an annual £57bn loss in productivity.

The sectors with the highest levels of work-related stress were also revealed to be the ones with the highest productivity loss. On average, UK companies lost 23.5 days of productivity per year by pushing staff too hard while keeping them inactive. And this figure jumps to 27 days for the most stressful and inactive industries. Meanwhile, the correlation between physical exercise and loss in productivity was highlighted by the healthcare sector where only 62.2% of the workers were deemed to be healthy, against the national average of 64.4%.

Comparatively, employees in high-tech industries were found to be the least stressed and most physically active workers in the UK, with 71.5% of the employees being deemed as healthy. Nevertheless, the sector still suffered an annual loss of 19 days of productivity per employee.

“We would urge all companies, and especially those in sectors suffering from acute productivity loss, to invest in the health and wellbeing of their staff,” said Shaun Subel, strategy director at VitalityHealth. “Reducing workplace stress and encouraging employees to stay physically active should help increase productivity levels and protect the business bottom line.”

So while it might be tempting to make your staff work late, letting them hit the gym could be a better bet.

About the Author

Eric Johansson

As feature writer and resident Viking, Johansson ensures EB is filled with engaging and eclectic entrepreneurial stories. While one of our freshest faces, he has sharpened his editorial teeth by writing about business, entertainment and fitness.

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