A survey by Drewberry has found 55% of SME workers are stressed or regularly feel stressed

Of the stressed workers surveyed by Drewberry, 59% said they were worried about money and 43.9% said they were stressed about work.

The research – which questioned 1,000 SME workers – also revealed that more than one in three workers had taken time off in the past 12 months to deal with stress or a mental health problem

Young employees

The survey also found that stress is most common among younger workers – 65.1% of 18-24 year olds agreed to regularly feeling stressed, with money concerns affecting 73.5%. Work worried 41% of this age bracket, who were most likely (73.5%) to be looking for another job over the next 12 months.

Employee benefits

Among the SME workers quizzed, insurance products were considered desirable, with 31.3% suggesting they would appreciate private medical insurance (PMI), 29% said they would like life insurance, 23% wanted income protection and 22.1% were keen on critical illness cover.

However, despite a thirst for these benefits, only 13.7% of SMEs offered life insurance, 12.6% provided the option of PMI, 7.6% made income protection available to employees and critical illness was on offer to 7.1%.

Abandoning ship

According to the research, the reasons, alongside stress, that employees said they were unhappy in their roles included lack of options for career development (55.1%), lack of general support from managers and co-workers (52%) and feeling like they didn’t have a voice (34.7%).

The things that workers look for when looking for another job included salary (67%), work environment (43.1%), job satisfaction (31.9%) and career advance options (26.7%), while 29.4% said they did take benefits and perks into account when looking for a new employer.

EAPs

“While the survey found that a considerable majority of people were happy in their jobs, this didn’t stop workers feeling stressed or looking to move jobs in the next year,” said Nadeem Farid, head of employee benefits at Drewberry. “Among those unhappy in their jobs, 56.7% said it was down to a lack of recognition for their efforts – one way to recognise the efforts of your staff might be to introduce some form of employee benefits package.

“Even something as simple as group life insurance – which can be obtained for a very reasonable premium – is highly appreciated by workers.

“As for stress, the good news is that many insurance-based employee benefits come with extensive employee assistance programs (EAPs). These provide anything from grief counselling for bereaved loved ones who’ve received a death in service payout to medical advice from remote GPs and dedicated stress management resources, such as advice hotlines. Given that such a high proportion of people are stressed about money, the financial support/debt counselling some EAPs offer can be invaluable.

“The overall results of the survey show there are a number of underlying issues in play here, and if left unaddressed SME bosses may find it difficult to attract and retain key employees in 2019 due to increasing labour market tightness.”

Off the back of these finding, Drewberry has put together a top 10 tips guide to help SMEs manage stress.