One of our clients, Russam GMS recently did some research with their database of senior executives on their attitudes to leadership, fitness and resilience. They found that 80% of senior executives said the workplace is a more stressful place than it was five years ago, with 75% saying mobile technology is to blame.
60% of respondents said their employees expect them to answer emails outside of work hours and a fifth of respondents said that “switching off from work at home” is their biggest challenge in terms of looking after their health. Other contributors of stress included more demanding financial targets, the pressure to be on call 24/7 and email which ‘makes things relentless.’
At the same time, the research found more than 80% of senior executives said their company has no procedures in place for recognising stress in the workplace, although 95% said they would recognise if one of their colleagues were stressed.
Interestingly 70 per cent of respondents said a company would be a more attractive employer if they offered more health benefits, and almost a quarter said they would prefer more health and well-being benefits to a pay rise.
However, many of Britain’s workplaces are failing to offer even basic health benefits with a quarter of companies offering no benefits at all. Almost two thirds (65%) don’t encourage employees to take regular breaks from their desks.
The top health benefits people would like are measures to encourage cycling, running or walking to work, mindfulness sessions, fitness classes at work, meditation and yoga sessions, plus more health advice available on the intranet.
Some of these themes were explored at a fascinating event, called ‘Are you fit for leadership?’ held by Russam in London at the beginning of July where guest speakers included Paul Pester, CEO of TSB and The General Lord Dannatt, former Head of the UK Army and Found, Patron and President of Help for Heroes.
Leadership can be a lonely place. When modern business leaders suffer health issues – perhaps more relevant today than ever given the increasingly fast-moving and pressurised environments we work in – who is there to turn to for advice?
Can we then expect these leaders to encourage the rest of their executive team to operate at peak mental and physical health – ensuring maximum efficiency and performance of both themselves and the organisation?
A 24/7 working culture and increased use of mobile technology has made it difficult for people to switch off and is contributing to stress in the workplace; and stress is one of the leading causes of health problems and absence in the workplace.
Both the research and the event highlight how important it is to look after the health and fitness of your employees these days, especially given modern technology is contributing to an increase in workplace stress.
As Ian Joseph, Managing Director, Russam GMS said: “If organisations are going to be fit for the future, leaders need to recognise the issue of stress and do something about it. Setting expectations about the use of mobiles and unplugging from emails during holidays is something senior executives should be doing as matter of course and leading by example.”