Taking a break at work
Do you take a break at work, or do you find yourself working straight through your designated breaks? New research has found that one in four people in the UK often work all day without taking a break.
The research of 3,000 people by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists found that more than half of those surveyed went to work when they were feeling unwell or stressed.
The reason given for the cause of stress, and why breaks were skipped, was staff shortages. While work can contribute to people's mental and physical well-being, overworking can lead to health problems, the CSP warned.
While a quarter of those polled took no lunch break at all, a third worked through most of theirs. Half of those who did so said it was because they had too much work to do, and a third because there were not enough staff to do the work required.
Causing physical pain
Working in the same position for long periods at a time meant many complained of physical pain, the report found.
The CSP warned that poor working practices increased the risk of chronic musculoskeletal disorders, like back pain - one of the most common reasons for long-term sickness leave in the UK.
Long-term absence is a particular problem. Although it only accounted for five percent of absences in the latest CBI/Pfizer Absence and Workplace Health Survey, the longer periods meant that it accounted for 20 percent of lost days in the private sector and 36 percent in the public sector. Back pain and mental health issues are key causes of long-term absence, according to the survey.
Berkeley Phillips, UK medical director, Pfizer, said: "We have long known that mental health, back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders are the leading causes of long-term absence, and this year's CBI report reinforces this. While employers view loss of productivity as the main impact of absence, as this report highlights, the economic consequences stretch much further and, as such, we as a society, need to do more to advance health and wellness at every stage of life."
Stress was also an issue the CSP found, with more than 40 percent feeling stressed at least once a week. For many of these people, staff shortages and a heavy workload were at the root of their anxiety.
Last year, the health watchdog NICE urged employers to do more to tackle stress and anxiety in the workplace.
Cost of sick days
Sickness absence and "sickness presence", when staff come to work feeling unwell, is estimated to cost employers and society about GBP£35 billion each year in reduced productivity, sick pay and benefits.
Employees in the UK took 180 million sick days last year, averaging 6.4 days each.
At least some of this could be recouped through healthier working practices and helping employees access treatment for musculoskeletal disorders, the CSP said.
"Work is good for us and can contribute to our physical and mental well-being - but not when overworking means people don't have the time or energy to look after their own health or when staff are at work but not fit for work," said Ann Green, chairman of the CSP.
Ben Willmott, of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: "These findings should ring alarm bells for employers.
"A certain level of pressure at work is of course desirable. However when the pressure people face exceeds their ability to cope - in other words stress - it is likely to lead to time off work and is linked to conditions such as depression, anxiety and heart disease."
If you take a break at work, you are taking yourself away from a short space of time, and giving yourself time to unwind and move yourself away from the daily grind and move your mind to something that relaxes you.
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