How lower stress levels can lead to increased productivity

Friday 8 April 2016

Limited company contractors and other small business owners can enjoy lower stress levels than their full-time traditionally-employed counterparts due to their ability to create a better work-life balance. Now, new research suggests that these reduced stress levels could boost workers' productivity.

This is according to a report from Britain's Healthiest Workplace in conjunction with Mercer, VitalityHealth, RANDEurope and the University of Cambridge, which led to the discovery that some UK businesses are losing as many as 27 days of productivity each year due to employee stress and related sickness.

As a result, it is estimated that the country loses some £57 billion from its economy each year due to workers experiencing high levels of pressure which make them ill.

The national average for lost days of productivity per year due to staff stress was found to be 23.5 days per company, but this was higher among healthcare organisations (26.6) and financial services businesses (24.9).

However, for technology firms, the statistic was significantly lower, with just 18.9 days of productivity lost each year, which suggests that this industry may be a less stressful one to work in, and that new technologies and the flexible ways of working they allow for are having a positive knock-on effect on workers' wellbeing.

IT workers were also found to be the most physically fit and active, with 71.5 per cent of the sector's employees deemed to be healthy in comparison to only 62.2 per cent of healthcare workers.

This may be because new technologies allow people to work flexibly, meaning digital workers can fit exercise into their day, boosting both their mental and physical wellbeing, enabling them to approach tasks in a refreshed frame of mind, increasing their productivity.

Chris Bailey, partner at Mercer, commented: "Modern working practices and the make-up of roles within the UK's workforce has impacted on the health of individuals significantly. Technology has allowed a more sedentary working life to become the norm.

"It's no surprise that new tech firms without legacy working practices have lower levels of stress, and lower lost productivity, whilst more established industries sometimes struggle to implement change and create a healthy working environment."

What's more, previous research has shown that self-employed individuals and those who are able to work flexibly to create an improved work-life balance - such as limited company contractors - tend to be happier than full-time employees, regardless of their earnings.

This was according to a 2014 report from the RSA and Etsy, which found that 84 per cent of contractors, freelancers and small business owners report higher happiness levels than if they were in a conventional job role.

If contractors are concerned that having to look after their own finances and tax matters will cause them added stress, Brookson's personal accountancy services can help to take this worry away, allowing them to remain compliant with HMRC while enjoying lower stress levels and increased productivity.

By Victoria McDonnell

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