‘Always on’ work culture taking its toll

Respondents of a global survey, particularly the sandwich generation, show decreased physical and mental wellness

By TMR 

The “always on” culture is taking a toll on the workforce, according to a global survey.

This year, 64% of people around the world were found to be working in an “always on” culture which causes stress, and adversely affects both physical and mental wellbeing, a survey by global health service company Cigna Corp stated.

Survey respondents have cited a decline in their physical health as a result of not having enough sleep and exercise.

Most respondents felt that employers are not addressing wellness concerns sufficiently, and often have a one-size-fits-all mindset when it comes to stress management and workplace wellness programmes.

In a statement, Cigna international markets president Jason Sadler (picture) said there is a real need to resolve the “always on” culture before it escalates further, as it is negatively affecting the global workforce.

Stress was identified as a key health problem in previous surveys and is still the pivotal issue, with 84% saying they are stressed and 13% unable to cope with stress.

Moreover, respondents perceive a lack of employer support. Of the 46% who received stress management support from their employer, only 28% felt it was adequate. In addition, two-fifths (38%) of respondents said no stress management support was provided at all.

The survey, entitled “2019 Cigna 360 Wellbeing Survey — Well and Beyond”, was conducted online in 23 countries.

Sandwich Generation

The survey also concluded that the “sandwich generation” — those between the ages of 35 and 49 — were pressed on both ends.

It noted that the sandwich generation hold an increasingly negative outlook on their well-being, as they are often caring for both ageing parents and young families.

These are some of the key findings with regard to the sandwich generation.

• Stress in general — 84% of those surveyed say they are stressed, with 13% considering their stress unmanageable.

• Top stress triggers — personal finance (17%), workload (16%) and personal health concerns (14%).

• Stress at work — 87% of workers say they are stressed and 12% feel their stress is unmanageable, with 64% claiming to be in an “always on” environment.

• Lack of employer support — 46% received support, but only 28% felt it was adequate. Also, 38% claim no stress management support was provided at all.

• Time-poor mentality — 26% of those who feel time-poor experience unmanageable stress compared to only 9% of those who feel otherwise.

Working Women, Old Age

The survey found that two-thirds (61%) of working women believe workplace wellness programmes need to better address their needs.

Half of the women surveyed feel that senior management are not serious about workplace wellness, the statement added.

Working women seek accessible, clear-cut and comprehensive programmes that will encourage participation, allow flexibility, give a sense of security and offer measures to counter stress.

While stress is a problem for both men and women, the study revealed that working women were, on average, more stressed than working men.

The survey also noted that half the respondents were prepared for older age, with those holding insurance policies and living in emerging markets feeling more financially optimistic.

For many over the age of 60, they see work as a way of staying mentally sharp, physically active and sharing their knowledge through mentorship.

“This contrasts with younger people who believe they will be working only for financial reasons as they age. There is a perception that companies are unwilling to hire older adults and unable to provide adequate support,” the statement noted.

The survey also found a growing acceptance of virtual health, with 59% willing to consider it for consultation and diagnosis. However, only one in five respondents fully understand its benefits.

Virtual health services — via telephone and online — are touted to offer convenience, accessibility and affordability. — TMR