Almost two fifths (37%) of employees have seriously considered resigning in the past year because of stress at work, research* by MetLife employee benefits shows.

The nationwide study found the most stressful workplace issue was colleagues failing to do their jobs properly with nearly half (49%) of the employees surveyed blaming failures by fellow workers for their stress. However pressure to hit sales and performance targets and being understaffed were also cited as major causes of stress by 45% of employees.

The research found 47% of employees say their job is stressful on a day-to-day basis while 48% say the stress levels have increased in the past year.  Just one-in-ten, say their job has become less stressful.

However, there is some evidence that companies are tackling the issue – around one in four employees who raised complaints about stress with their employer say action was taken.

That supports data** from MetLife’s UK Employee Benefits Trends Survey which shows the key role employee benefits and supportive managers play. The report, one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind, having been conducted in the US for twelve years and at various times in nine other countries, shows improving employee benefits is the second most important motivation to stay at a job behind a pay rise chosen by 57% of employees compared with 79% who chose a higher salary. The survey shows 10% of employees are considering changing jobs in 2015.

However managers have a crucial role to play and the study found just 35% of employees say their supervisor is supportive. There is demand from employees- MetLife’s research shows that 38% of workers would welcome resilience training to cope with work pressure and criticism.

Tom Gaynor, Employee Benefits Director at income protection provider MetLife UK, said:

“It is shocking that nearly two out of five employees have considered resigning because of workplace stress. Losing staff because of stress issues is worrying but just as damaging is the impact on work performance when employees are unhappy.

“Improving employee benefits engagement and making more use of services such as Employee Assistance Programmes and wellbeing programmes can help but the role of managers is crucial. Our study shows that when managers are supportive that employee engagement at work and (with their benefits) rises substantially.

“At the organisational level, practical programmes for building employees’ mental and physical resilience create foundations for companies to manage through challenge, change and uncertainty. Prevention is better than cure which is where employee benefits programmes can play a major role.”



* Research conducted  online between November 4th and November 10th among a nationally representative sample of 1,052 full time employees aged  18+ by independent market research firm Consumer Intelligence

** Research conducted   by Research Runner among a representative sample of UK employees and employers between August and October 2014