Britain’s bosses could soon offer workers a shoulder to cry on to cut down on stress at home and work, according to researchers.
Workers at 500 firms were asked about how their employers could best deal with personal problems – and two-thirds answered offering them flexitime would help the most.
Surprisingly, 45% of workers confessed they had taken time off to handle personal issues.
Besides more flexible hours, 28% would like subsidised gym membership and 19% want to join healthy living clubs – such as those promoting weight loss – through their workplace.
“With so few people appearing to be given support with flexible working practices and maintaining a healthy diet, there is a clear opportunity for employers to set themselves apart and show how much they care about their employees’ welfare,” said Paul Avis of insurer Canada Life.
“A few small steps in this direction can cost very little but make a big difference.”
Meanwhile, separate research by insurance giant Aviva also revealed the scale of absenteeism at work.
The firm paid out £29.5 million in income protection cover last year – with psychiatric conditions topping the claims list.
Almost one in three claims (28%) related to a psychiatric condition – moderate depression was the most common (28%), followed by anxiety (15%) and stress (12%).
Orthopaedic conditions came second (21%), with neurological disorders (18%) third.
The average age for claims was 45 years old for men and 43 for women.
Almost half of the insurer’s income protection pay outs were to claimants who had been of work for 10 years.
Aviva UK Health head of income protection, Will Kentish, said: “As the government’s changes in employment support allowance take effect, we’d encourage people to consider how they can ensure a regular income for as long as they would need, if they were prevented or restricted from working due to illness or injury.”