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British workers under pressure from bosses to take on extra work

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Over a third of British workers have given their boss a lift (36 percent), bought their lunch (36 percent) or have gone to the Post Office for them (34 percent); 13 percent have walked the boss’ dog or picked-up dry cleaning for them; 1 in 5 say that they even lie for their boss and 39 percent say that they feel pressure to agree to do extra work.

As many British workers continue to feel nervous about their jobs, over two thirds (70 percent) are regularly agreeing to take on extra tasks at work – often to make their boss’ life easier. A third of people (32 percent) say they complete tasks that their boss should be doing, according to research* from budgeting account provider A fifth of workers (20 percent) even admit to lying to cover their boss’ back. When asked why they take on tasks that are outside of their job description, more than half (55 percent) claim that they are happy to do them. However, 39 percent say they feel they have no choice in taking on the extra work. Younger workers (aged 25-34) are the ones feeling the most pressure, with half of those questioned feeling obliged to agree to their boss’ requests.

Not surprisingly, younger workers are also more likely to want to impress their boss, with just over 1 in ten (11 percent) giving this as a reason for going the extra mile. This compares with just 1 in 50 people aged over 55 agreeing to do extra work to impress their boss.

Ian Williams of thinkmoney says: ‘In these uncertain times, it’s understandable that workers often feel under pressure to do more to keep their boss happy. And it’s all well and good to do an extra job or two to help your employer. But, when those extra jobs start to become expected and workers feel that they have no choice, it can cause stress and potentially lead to bigger problems down the line.”

Things workers do to help out the boss:

Buy their lunch 36 percent

Give them a lift 36 percent

Go to the Post Office 34 percent

Do their work for them 32 percent

Do shopping for them 30 percent

Buy their coffee 28 percent

Make travel or dinner reservations 20 percent

Lie for them 20 percent

Walk their dog 13 percent

Pick-up their dry cleaning 13 percent


Two thirds of business managers don’t believe mental illness warrants time off work. Two thirds (69  percent) of senior business managers and owners don’t believe that suffering from stress, anxiety or depression is a serious enough reason for employees to be off work, according to new research* from AXA PPP healthcare highlighting the stigma surrounding mental ill health in British businesses.

When asked how they would react if an employee they manage was suffering from a mental health issue, one in five said they would worry about the employee’s capability to do their job and one in six said they would worry about the consequences for themselves personally, such as it reflecting poorly on their management style or having to pick up additional work. This is despite 1 in 4 of managers acknowledging that they have experienced a mental health problem themselves – a finding that mirrors exactly the response of employees when asked the same question.

When asked if they would be honest with their line manager when calling in sick because they were suffering from stress, anxiety or depression, only 39  percent of employees said they would tell the truth. For those that stated they would avoid telling the truth, 1 in 7 (15  percent) said they were afraid they would not be believed, 1 in 4 (23  percent) were afraid of being judged and 23  percent preferred to keep their health issues private. Seven percent said they feared their line manager’s reaction to being told the truth.

There was considerable scepticism about the seriousness of employers’ commitment to dealing with mental ill health at work. Forty six percent of employees surveyed thought their employer didn’t take mental health issues seriously. Just 12 percent of bosses thought their industry was affected by mental ill health and felt that it was doing enough to address it. Despite this negativity, over half (54 percent) of employers thought that attitudes towards mental ill health in the workplace have changed for the better in the past fifteen years. This compares with 30 percent who said that they had not seen any change.

Dr Mark Winwood, director of clinical psychology at AXA PPP healthcare, says: “Stress and mental health issues affect one in four people on average in any given year and one in six at any given time. With this rate of occurrence, we need to work harder to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental ill health. Businesses are well placed to lead the way to changing this harmful prejudice by giving their employees the necessary tools and support to enable them to discuss mental health in an open and unbiased way. “Lack of understanding breeds fear so improving employees’ awareness and understanding of mental illness is one of the most important things a company’s senior management team can do and a critical first step is to challenge the stigma surrounding mental ill health in the workplace.

“Employers can begin by introducing a number of small but important changes such as promoting an open and honest culture where the facts about mental ill health are freely communicated and discussed. I have seen that senior managers who have been open and felt able to share their own experiences of mental health challenges and worries have often succeeded in developing an environment that is more accepting. Training and supporting managers to deal with employees affected by mental ill health (including letting them know what employee assistance programmes are available) will also help to give them the confidence to provide effective support where and when it is needed.”

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