Recent research by AXA PPP healthcare has shown that employees in the 30-49 age bracket struggle more with the demands of work than employees from any other age group.
One of the headline findings from the research relates to the amount of sickness absence taken, with employees between the ages of 30-49 averaging 2.3 sick days each in the last six months. A quarter of employees from this age range have taken three or four days off sick, whilst 12% have been absent for five or six days, or a full working week. By comparison only 6% of workers aged 18-29 and 5% of workers aged 50-69 took the same amount of time off during the same period.
Underpinning the findings is the fact that 38% of ‘middle-aged’workers from this age bracket stated that they feel stressed all or most of the time, with 43% citing financial worries as a reason, 41% citing work pressure and 38% work worries.
Health and wellbeing should be a serious concern for employers with workers in this age bracket, as the study indicated that significant portions of respondents feel negatively towards their jobs.
- 15% of workers aged 30-49 feel that they do not have a career path
- 29% of workers aged 30-49 feel that their career has reached a plateau
- 27% of workers aged 30-49 feel that their employment situation does not allow them to pursue their top life priorities
Tying into these statements, workers from this age bracket are also not looking after themselves properly, with 20% regularly skipping meals on five or more days a week, compared to 15% of 18-29 year olds and only 8% of 50-69 year olds.
Our consultant Gill Howells offers her view on the findings:
“The definition of a ‘middle aged’ worker in this report has in itself sparked some controversy in our office.
In these days of high economic pressure, many of us are working longer hours as a matter of routine and workers in this age range often have the added time and economic pressures of bringing up children, arranging expensive childcare, teenage tantrums and large mortgages which, together with work pressures, will often give rise to very high levels of stress. Work intensification, job insecurity, third party violence, harassment, new forms of employment contracts such as temporary and zero hours and variable irregular or unpredictable working hours all add to the story.
Stress has a knock on effect for health problems, absence, lower productivity, and generates costs for businesses; it would be unwise not to take the issues seriously.
This report fills an important gap in our understanding of how stress can impact upon people in the middle of their working lives. We all have to consider the kinds of work that we require people to do with a view to reducing stress levels wherever we can. We need to strike the right balance between maintaining high levels of efficiency and giving appropriate consideration to the nature of the demands that we make on staff. We should consider issues such as how much control we give people over the way they carry out their work; the amount of recognition we give staff for the contribution that they make, in addition to more practical matters such as flexibility of working hours and the development of other ‘family friendly’ policies.
After all, we don’t want our ‘middle aged’ staff getting old before their time!”
Companies need to attempt to identify stress in their employees, which can be achieved through regular one to ones and performance appraisals. Additional support can also be provided through Employee Assistance Programes (EAP), as well as training for both the employees and managers.