Peers pressured? Almost three quarters of UK employees have had concerns about a colleague’s wellbeing

  • 71% of people have been given cause for concern by a colleague’s behaviour
  • Over half of UK workforce say a personal issue has negatively impacted their work
  • 41% say relationship problems have impacted their work, 1 in 6 say periods of excessive drinking have affected their performance
  • 1 in 8 have left their jobs as a direct result of personal problems
  • Suffering employees more likely to turn to their manager or peer than seek support from HR

Discover more here: 

MONDAY 11th FEBRUARY 2019 – LONDON, UK – The majority of UK employees have harboured concerns about the personal wellbeing of a colleague, according to research released today.

The figures, released by the leading online job board Totaljobs, found that millions of UK workers are bringing serious personal problems into work which is leading to a range of consequences both in and out of the workplace.

The survey of 2,001 UK employees found that 71% have had a reason to be concerned for a colleague’s welfare. Many people recognise these personal issues, with 57% admitting they have gone through periods of difficulty that has impacted their own work.

Trials and Tribulations

Of those who said they had gone through periods of difficulty, the most common issue that UK workers appear to be bringing to work are concerns around financial difficulty (50%) and depression (47%).

In addition, 41% of UK employees said relationship issues have impacted their work, with 30% saying the breakdown of a relationship has affected their behaviour at work. 1 in 6 (16%) admit that their performance at work has been impacted by periods of excessive drinking.

The research highlights that millions of workers across the country are having their career progression and future prospects impacted by personal problems.

Over half (54%) of workers say that their personal issues have led to them regularly making mistakes at work, with 2 in 5 (42%) saying they have missed a working day as a direct result. 1 in 8 (12%) say that their personal problems have directly led to them leaving their jobs, with 6% saying they believe their issues have cost them a promotion at work.

Tell-tale Signs

The most prevalent indicator that an employee is experiencing difficulty is seeing them consistently staying late at work (59%).

45% say that witnessing a colleague regularly losing their temper was the first sign they were struggling with personal issues, with 41% saying a co-worker has discussed financial or relationship problems with them.

A third (34%) say they have a colleague who regularly turns up to work hungover and over a quarter (27%) say they have a peer who they witness crying on a regular basis.

Speaking Up?

Whilst many UK workers are dealing with personal issues, the research offers encouragement when people share their burden. Although almost a third (31%) admit that they keep their problem to themselves, the majority of employees look to share their issue.

Employees are most likely to disclose their problems to colleagues of the same level (39%), followed by their line manager (34%).

12% of employees will choose to share their issues with a senior colleague who doesn’t manage them. The figures show that a mere 9% will head to their HR department as their first port of call to flag a personal issue that might be impacting their work.

Speaking up is often the first step towards a resolution. 39% of people say they have had a colleague express concerns about their wellbeing and 42% say they were relieved when someone addressed their issue with them.

Whilst 56% of employees say their workplace has a dedicated HR department, the proportion of the workforce that are employed by SME’s suggest that not everyone benefits from a dedicated department.

11% say that their HR department is a single individual, with the same amount saying they have no HR department whatsoever, perhaps explaining why UK employees are far more likely to divulge their issues to their peers or line manager.

The Ties That Bind

Over a quarter (29%) of UK employees admit that an intervention from a colleague has led them to taking direct action to address their personal problems.

Encouragingly, it appears UK workers are swift to act when they notice a co-worker having issues – a quarter (25%) say they addressed the issue immediately with the person they are concerned about, whilst over half (54%) say they spoke to a colleague within a week of noticing that they weren’t quite themselves.

However, it is not always an easy conversation, as although 42% of people who were going through personal problems feeling relieved by the intervention, a separate 1 in 7 (14%) admitted denying the issue when their colleague first broached the subject.

Three quarters (72%) of people who spoke up for a colleague say that they felt their intervention had had a positive impact on the colleague in question.

48% say they became closer friends with the person who spoke up for them, with a quarter (25%) saying their colleague’s intervention was the start of a workplace friendship, showing that open dialogue often leads to positive outcomes.

Expert psychologist Honey Langcaster-James, who worked with Totaljobs to analyse their findings, comments, “The research released today indicates that there are millions of people across the UK who are battling with personal problems at the same time as trying to hold down a high-pressure job.

“There has been a lot of discussion about the prevalence of mental health problems across the UK workforce, but today’s figures show the issues many people face are far broader. The issues that workers are bringing to work are in many instances being compounded by a sense that there is nobody they can talk to.

“The positive takeaway from the research is that UK workers are often quick to act when they see a colleague facing difficulties, with a quarter acting immediately and over half expressing concern within a week. So whilst many people are clearly battling personal problems, it is heartening to learn that so many employees are prepared to intervene to help a colleague. I’d encourage people who are struggling to feel confident that a trusted co-worker will be able to support them.”

Martin Talbot, Group Marketing Director at Totaljobs comments, “Despite the fact that many employers have invested in programs to support staff, today’s findings suggest that there is a lack of awareness amongst the UK workforce about the provision that is available to them. It is concerning that so many people are soldiering on with personal issues and often feel they can’t open up until a colleague intervenes.

“We would encourage organisations to raise awareness of the support on offer and provide a safe, comfortable way for their staff to raise personal issues and minimise the impact on their life inside and outside of work.”