Survey says work really is hazardous to your health

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Sick of your job? You’re not alone, with an international survey finding nearly a fifth of employees say their work makes them ill or unhealthy.

A trader covers his face in a file photo. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

The online survey, by global recruitment firm Kelly Services, polled about 115,000 people in 33 countries in Europe, Asia and the Pacific and North America this year.

On average, 19 percent of respondents globally said their job was adversely affecting their health, with an additional 13 percent saying their work was so stressful it was making it hard for them to sleep at night.

“In economies everywhere, people are spending more time at work, sometimes at the expense of personal health and wellbeing,” said the Kelly Global Workforce Survey.

“A significant number of people also believe that the state of their health is at risk because of workplace conditions. Not only do employees see their health being affected, but they expect employers to actively address the issue,” it said.

Japan, where employees have committed suicide due to the stress of too much work, 60 percent of respondents said they had suffered from work-related health problems.

Canada had the second-highest percentage of employees who said their health was affected, while employees in New Zealand, India and Australia were among those least affected.

A third of employees said they had taken three or more days of sick leave in the past year, but 35 percent said they had been made to feel guilty about the time off.

By contrast, 15 percent admitted to taking sick leave when they were not genuinely sick.

While the majority of workers polled said their health was their employer’s responsibility, not everyone is asking for access to a gym, flexible hours or nutrition classes.

The survey showed that employees said workplace stress could be reduced by better communication between staff and management and recognizing individual achievements.

“Employers can play a pivotal role in improving the health and fitness of their workers by introducing incentives and programs to keep staff encouraged, motivated and productive,” the survey said.

“In a tight labor market, employee incentives are also a key tool in recruiting and retaining staff.”

Writing by Miral Fahmy; Editing by Paul Tait