With staff putting in longer hours as a result of the shift to homeworking, this rise in workload is leading UK staff to become chronically stressed. 

A new report released by Cigna Europe indicates that one in three UK staff (32 per cent) working from home have been putting in longer hours since the start of COVID-19.

As such, the study warns this is leading to widespread stress among employees in the UK – with almost three-quarters suffering from this (71 per cent).

More worryingly, over one in 10 (12 per cent) are facing “unmanageable stress”, leading to significant fears regarding burnout and concerns linked to mental health.

When understanding what was causing this rising workload, the report found a lack of an office routine and extra time from non-commuting were found to be key factors contributing to this problem.

This approach appears to be at odds with what UK staff have ranked as most important to them with over two-thirds (69 per cent) placing mental health as the highest priority linked to their overall health.

This was closely followed by their physical health, showing UK staff are aware of the need to cultivate an effective work-life balance which allows them to prioritise their overall health.

In particular, certain demographics including women, younger people and those living alone were found to be the most likely to note a drop in well-being, specifically social and family well-being.

Dr. Peter Mills, Associate Medical Director at Cigna Europe, said:

It is essential for employers to focus on closing the gap between what employees expect in terms of their overall Whole Health and what they actually receive now that we are starting to return to the office. Whole Health extends beyond the typical provisions of physical and mental health and includes everything that makes up the employee’s world: family, friends, work-life balance, access to care, finances and home environment. Difficulty in any one of these areas can have an immediate knock-on effect on a person’s Whole Health.

During the past year, it’s clear from our research that too many people in the UK are not just struggling with longer working hours, but also with unmanageable stress, often leading to mental health issues – a health aspect that is increasingly becoming more and more important.

*This research has been documented in Cigna Europe’s “2021 Cigna 360 Well-being Survey: Europe Regional Report” which surveyed 3,014 respondents in Europe and 1,002 people in the UK.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.