12:29 PM, September 29, 2022

UK’s brave face workplace culture takes its toll as 79% of finance workers surveyed now suffer from ‘pleasanteeism’ 

Daily News
| The European | 10 February 2022
  • Pleasanteeism is increasing among finance workers, with 79% of those surveyed now admitting to putting on a brave face at work, in comparison to 58% of those surveyed in May 2021
  • Stress at work, and money / the rising cost of living are among the top concerns contributing to pleasanteeism for finance workers
  • This decline in mental wellbeing is having a significant impact on the UK economy, with pleasanteeism driving up absences – 66% of finance workers admit to taking days off due to feeling like they have to put on a brave face at work
  • Lime backs finance workers’ call for greater health and wellbeing support for every employee not just the select few – to improve staff mental health, while driving down absenteeism and boosting productivity 

‘Pleasanteeism’ – the pressure to put on a brave face – is on the rise across the UK, as 79% of finance workers surveyed admit to feeling like they have to put on a brave face in front of their colleagues regardless of how they’re really feeling.

According to new research, released today by Lime Global, the provider of affordable and accessible whole of workforce health and wellbeing solutions, pleasanteeism is up by 21 percentage points from May 2021 – when (58%) of finance workers admitted to suffering from this phenomenon.

With more workers masking how they really feel than ever before, pleasanteeism is having a significant impact on the productivity of finance businesses. Findings from the research revealed that two thirds (66%) of employees have taken time off work due to feeling like they have to put on a brave face. 

In fact, on average, finance workers take 3.02 days off per year as a result of this brave face culture. Across the entire UK workforce, pleasanteeism could therefore be accounting for as many as 67 million[1]days lost each year due to this phenomenon alone.

If left unaddressed, this could become a catastrophic problem, affecting absenteeism levels in a sector that is finally reporting an increase across business volumes, yet not recruiting new employees to keep pace with this growth.[2]

Not only is this driving up absence rates in a sector otherwise poised for growth, but workers also revealed that having to put on a brave face at work impacts their ability to do their job effectively, with 23% of those in the finance industry who feel like they have had to put on a brave face admitting that they have been unable to concentrate at work or had an unproductive day. 

Cost of living and stress at work top concerns contributing to pleasanteeism 
Despite finance workers putting on a brave face, behind closed doors it’s a different story with over a third (34%) saying they are struggling to cope at work, and the same number not coping in everyday life.  

A number of factors are contributing to people feeling this way, in particular 29% admit to being stressed at work, while 28% are worried about money and the rising cost of living, and 21% are concerned about the mental health of their family and loved ones. 

Better support and benefits for every employee 
Findings from the research demonstrate that more can be done to tackle pleasanteeism and the negative impact that it is having on workers and business productivity. In fact, over half (52%) of finance workers revealed that their expectations of their employer to support their mental health are higher now than they were before the pandemic, however they expect this support to be offered to every member of staff. 59% of workers in finance surveyed said that they believe benefits should be offered to the whole of a company’s workforce, not just the select few, while 40% said that it’s unfair that healthcare and wellbeing benefits aren’t currently offered to the whole workforce in their company.

Shaun Williams, CEO & Founder, Lime Global Ltd, commented: “After two years of stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic, concerns over health and wellbeing are understandably on the rise for finance workers. It’s therefore vital that companies act to offer each one of their employees as much support as possible. Not only is it the right thing to do, but amid a backdrop of economic uncertainty, low productivity and staff shortages, it will be crucial to help drive down absenteeism and protect businesses’ bottom lines.

“Providing access to inclusive healthcare benefits – that are designed to make a tangible impact – combined with a company culture that supports an open dialogue around the challenges that people are facing, are key steps to producing a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.”

Many finance workers also said they would welcome small initiatives from their employer including greater flexibility in working hours (20%), and mental health days off (20%). While 16% said they would like their employer to be more mindful of their workload and work/life balance.

Dr Ben Littlewood-Hillsdon, Medical Director at HealthHero, commented: “No one’s health or resilience should be taken for granted, particularly during difficult periods such as these. Acting to prioritise our own wellbeing and that of our colleagues, doesn’t always require a lot of work – the first step is to create space to have an open conversation, ask questions and make it clear that there will be no negative repercussions from talking about the challenges people are facing.  

Everyone’s health and resilience are equally important, employers really will reap the rewards if they take time to consider and support the wellbeing of each member of their team, that’s the key to building a stronger and more successful UK workforce.” 

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