Sleepless nights and increased smoking the by-products of employee stress

Sleeping at desk

Stress at work can lead to sleepless nights and poor drinking and smoking habits among UK employees, according to new research from Canada Life Group Insurance.

Despite sleep being key to good mental and physical health, the survey revealed that half of employees (51%) lose sleep worrying about their job or work-related concerns, and one in ten (11%) go to work feeling tired every day.

Employers are growing increasingly concerned by these figures, as a recent study showed that sleep deprived workers are costing the UK £40 billion a year in lost productivity.

Stress at work is also a contributing factor to increased smoking among employees, with a third of smokers (34%) say they do so more after a busy or stressful day at work, a quarter (25%) using smoking to break up the day, and 28% trying to quit but finding it too hard during the working week.

Worryingly, employer attitudes are not helping to promote positive health and exercise habits.  A fifth (21%) of workers believe employee health is not important to their organisation, while just over a quarter (27%) believe employee health is important to their organisation – but only to maintain a productive workforce.

Paul Avis, marketing director at Canada Life Group Insurance, comments: “Employees who turn up to work feeling tired are less likely to be productive. Our research shows that workplace stress is often the cause of workers’ sleepless nights, with worrying about work related issues and checking emails keeping staff up at night. Stress can be just as damaging for staff as physical conditions, with 15.8 million working days lost last year to such mental health issues.

“Providing staff with access to Employee Assistance Programmes – such as those provided alongside group income protection products – is one way employers can demonstrate their commitment to health and wellbeing and help reduce workplace stress. This is particularly important given many employees do not believe their employers value their health, and are unlikely to feel engaged with their workplace as a result. Tackling stress at its root will help reduce sickness absence rates and improve productivity – not to mention give staff a better night’s sleep.”