Home Articles & Features Grim up North? Yorkshire’s office workers are stressed out and unhappy

Grim up North? Yorkshire’s office workers are stressed out and unhappy

A new study has revealed a potential ticking time bomb of workplace stress and unhappiness among Yorkshire’s office workers, with York and Bradford emerging as the ‘most unhappy’ cities in the region. However, the research also highlights a direct link between employer wellness programmes, and staff performance and happiness.

Commissioned by workplace engagement specialists, Team Activ, the study sought views of 500 employees across Yorkshire’s biggest cities, ahead of the company’s inaugural ‘Wellness at Work Week’ – a seven-day drive, kicking off today, to promote health and wellbeing in the office.

The data reveals the region’s average employee lunchbreak is just 15 minutes long, with 9% taking less than five minutes each day. Only 16% of Yorkshire’s workers admitted taking their allotted full hour for lunch, while overall, 76% regularly failed to adhere to the Government’s recommendation of a short ‘rest break’ every 20-30 minutes throughout the day.

Health habits in the office are also a cause for concern: 43% of staff admit regularly binging on junk food or sweets due to dipping energy levels, 43% experience extreme tiredness while at their desk, and nearly a third (32%) frequently experience mid-afternoon ‘mental slumps’.

But more worryingly the research reveals nearly one-in-five (18%) office workers suffer from depression or negative thoughts while in work, with the top reasons for this discontent emerging as being ‘worked too hard’ (40%), lack of employer support (35%), and lack of job stimulation (32%).

The most stressed out towns and cities in Yorkshire
(based on percentage of employees who ‘often’ suffer negative thoughts and stress in the office)

  1. York (19%)
  2. Bradford (18%)
  3. Hull (14%)
  4. Leeds (10%)
  5. Sheffield (5%)

The top three most ‘stressed out’ professions
(based on percentage of employees who ‘often’ suffer negative thoughts and stress in the office)

  1. Marketing, advertising, digital or PR (18%)
  2. Sales / recruitment (14%)
  3. Retail / Hospitality (13%)

On a more positive note, when it comes to employer-led wellbeing perks – such as gym memberships or free fruit in winter – 40% of the region’s companies already offer these services to their employees, with 76% of workers taking them up on it, though women are much more likely (x62%) than men to take them up on this.

There is also a direct correlation between employer-led wellbeing schemes and staff happiness and performance. Staff who DON’T benefit from wellness schemes are a staggering 350% more likely to be unhappy, depressed and stressed at work, 25% more likely to have mid-afternoon mental slumps and 400% more likely to skip lunch!

The study also sought to understand what would help ‘de-stress’ the region’s office workers and make their days happier and more productive. A more supportive workplace environment (75%) came top, followed by staff getting more exercise each day (67%), taking more breaks (60%), having a better diet while at work (58%), and drinking less caffeine (49%).

Darren Padgett, director and founder of Team Activ, said: “Sitting at a desk all day is hugely detrimental to health, so the more activity employees can do, the better. However, what’s more concerning is the bigger issues this can cause; from eating unhealthy foods to feeling tired at work and even depressed.

“While of course employees need to act in a sensible and responsible way, the onus is also on employers who need to lead from the front, ensuring their staff are happy, healthy, and motivated. That’s what Wellness at Work Week is all about, and our campaign microsite provides a wealth of information about how both parties can achieve this.”