More than one-fifth (22%) of employee respondents believe that workplace support such as employee assistance programmes (EAPs) and access to counselling would make them feel more comfortable taking time off when they are physically or mentally unwell, according to research by Canada Life Group Insurance.
Its survey of 1,004 full-time and part-time employees also found that 18% of respondents have gone into work when they are feeling mentally unwell.
The research also found:
- 19% of respondents would be more likely to go into work when feeling mentally unwell than they would if they were feeling physically unwell.
- One-fifth (20%) of respondents would take time off work for a stress-related illness.
- 12% of respondents believe that their manager and colleagues’ understanding of mental health issues is poorer than their understanding of physical health problems.
- More than one-third (37%) of respondents believe that flexible-working options would make them feel more comfortable taking time off work when unwell, and 18% feel back-to-work rehabilitation support for long-term health conditions would help.
- 34% of respondents believe a more positive attitude to health and wellbeing in the workplace would make them feel more comfortable taking time off work when they are experiencing mental or physical ill-health, and 26% believe less pressure to be always on would help.
- 20% of respondents would be embarrassed to say that they have been off work because of a mental ill-health issue, 13% fear that it could affect their career prospects, and 12% worry that their boss or colleagues would no longer take them seriously.
Paul Avis (pictured), marketing director at Canada Life Group Insurance, said: “Old stigmas still persist when it comes to mental health in the workplace. People suffering from mental health issues should be focusing on getting better rather than struggling into the office. You would not come into work if you were too physically unwell to do so, would you?
“Too many employees do come in when unwell [because] they are worried about how having a mental illness will affect their job prospects or relationship with their colleagues. Employers must do more to show they are serious about supporting employees with mental health and stress-related issues. It is important to communicate not only that it’s okay for them to take time off to get better, but also that there won’t be any negative impact on their career for doing so.
“Organisations should embrace professional, quality support as many are unaware of what can be done and what support is available from insurers.”