Workplace stress is the biggest cause of sleepless nights in the UK, according to a new survey.
This survey, from Thomsons Online Benefits, found people were more likely to be awake in the early hours worrying about work, than they were about debts or their caring responsibilities.
Thomsons says this comes against a backdrop of rapid digitalisation and lengthening working hours, which is driving social isolation. As a result it says there is a growing need for employers to provide a social wellbeing support for their employees.
In total, one in three (31 per cent) employees said workplace stress kept them awake at night – this includes their interaction with management and colleagues. Meanwhile one in four (25 per cent) worry about their relationships with the people they care about, and how these are potentially affected by the demands of work.
In contrast just 20 per cent of people said worries about debts kept them awake at night, while 13 per cent said concerns about caring responsibilities stopped them from getting a restful night’s sleep.
The research also displays a growing appetite among UK employees for workplace initiatives and benefits that support their social connectedness. Half (49 per cent) of employees feel that their employer should support them with their work/life balance, while 63 per cent would value monthly company lunches.
This is greater than the percentage who would value financial assistance, such as emergency loans (55 per cent), childcare benefits (58 per cent) or in-office fitness sessions (57 per cent).
UK employees also make a distinction between the high visibility ‘quirky’ benefits increasingly used to denote a fun office culture, and those that present real opportunity to build meaningful social connections.
Over half (56 per cent) of respondents would value success celebrations and 45 per cent would value Friday drinks. This exceeds the 37 per cent who would value yoga, pilates or puppies in the office.
The requirement for social wellbeing support is particularly evident within younger workforce segments. While 49 per cent of over 55s would value monthly company lunches, this figure rises to 72 per cent in the 18-24 age bracket. Similarly, 69 per cent of 18-24s would value success celebrations, compared to 35 per cent of over 55s.
Thomsons Online Benefits consulting director Jack Curzon says: “Humans are innately social, meaning that our social connections and how we feel about these can have an incredible impact on our mental health, workplace engagement and productivity.
“Widespread digitalisation, the rise of the gig economy and increasingly flexible working patterns are all contributing to UK employees’ increasing anxiety over their social connectedness.
“For the first time in research, we’re seeing social wellbeing appear high up on employees’ agendas, usurping mental, physical and even financial wellbeing. If UK employers really want to show their people they care, they need to create a culture that prioritises social interactions and inclusiveness – rather than implement one-off, quick fix benefits with no long-term value.”
He adds that as remote working becomes the norm, individuals will be looking for support accessing the the social connections that typified the workplace 20 years ago, be it Christmas parties, lunches, and Friday drinks.
He says: “These benefits are not hard to establish – indeed many employers already have them and just need to refresh their communications – but they cannot underestimate their importance.
“Employers must start thinking now about how they engage the future workforce. It is only with this degree of foresight that they stand a chance at embedding the right culture and getting the right infrastructure in place.”