Half of workers in the North East hide health issues from boss, according to new study

Credit: PA

Almost half of workers in the North East would not talk to their employer if they were experiencing a health issue, according to new research.

The study from not-for-profit healthcare provider Benenden Health found as many as 40% of individuals in the region reported that they wouldn’t feel confident discussing any health issue with their employer.

This also included many worrying about what it would mean for their career and relationships within the workplace if they shared their health situation.

The survey revealed the most common issues that workers have not disclosed to their employer to be poor mental health, high blood pressure and arthritis – all conditions that could be exacerbated in the workplace.

What reasons did employees in the North East say in the study that makes them hesitant to discuss their wellbeing at work?

  • 28% said they would worry that people would think they couldn’t do their job.

  • 30% said they believed they might lose their job.

  • 22% said they were concerned that they would be talked about.

  • 16% said they believed that they have been overlooked for a job in the past due to a health issue, long-term condition or disability.

  • 6% said they worried that people wouldn’t want to be their friends.

The charity is warning that fear and stigma around health in the workplace means millions of workers may not be getting the necessary – or any - support from their employers.

They say this could lead to absences, lower productivity and employees ultimately leaving their job.

Naomi Thompson, Head of OD at Benenden Health, said: “This stigma is especially prevalent in the workplace, with businesses too often unable to identify wellbeing issues, employees concerned about the implications of discussing them and a continuing lack of tangible support, all of which contribute to lost time and productivity for businesses as well as unaddressed poor employee wellbeing."

She added: “Healthcare support should be available to all employees – not just senior staff - and despite some misconceptions, this can be implemented at an affordable cost. Tailored wellbeing programmes, developed with employee consultation and recognising the different needs of a multigenerational workforce, can increase productivity, support recruitment and promote a happier and healthier workforce.”