Workers suffer health concerns 'in silence'

The vast majority of employees would not share health concerns or personal issues with their boss or colleagues at work, research suggests.

A study of over 1,000 workers found that 21% of workers think "admitting" to health concerns could affect their work prospects.

Ironically, however, employers think they are good at spotting potential personal or health issues in their workforce.

Aviva's Health of the Workplace 4 study suggests that just 4% of employees would approach their boss with a health concern, while a further 5% claim they might confide in a colleague. Just 1% said they would trust their problems to the HR department. By comparison, 60% say they would unburden themselves to their partner and 33% would speak to the family doctor.

Although nearly a quarter of employees (23%) state this is just a matter of safeguarding their privacy, the research portrays a "worrying" distance between employer and employee, Aviva said. Eleven per cent of respondents to the survey claim they simply do not trust their boss.

By contrast, 39% of employers claim to make a point of identifying any employee issues and 42% say they operate an open door policy.

Dr Doug Wright, principal clinical consultant at Aviva UK Health, said it is "good to see" that employers recognise the importance of having an open door policy when it comes to their employees' health and wellbeing.

But he added: "We want to make them aware of the worrying disconnect between their perception and the reality to help them take steps to tackle the issues.

"The breakdown in communication between employers and their staff means that health risks such as stress in the workplace are not being effectively managed. Lack of employee engagement will also hinder an employer's ability to intervene early and offer their employees the right support at the right time."

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