HR professionals struggle to cope with milestone events

HR staff are less likely than others to cope with life’s ‘milestone’ events, such as a marriage break-up or a death in the family, with a quarter feeling suicidal as a result, according to research.

Almost a third (30%) of HR respondents to research firm Explorandum’s Milestone or Mill-stone report also admitted to having taken anti-depressants or sleeping pills, compared with the national average of 22%.

The report, commissioned by employee assistance provider PPC Worldwide, suggests this above-average figure could be because the HR role involves looking after the welfare of other people and dealing with their problems.

The depression caused by life events has an adverse effect on work in the HR department, the survey shows, with almost a third of HR professionals admitting to working at less than half their normal productivity during hard times. They also lose more hours at work, spending an average of 1.42 hours a day unproductively.

Overall, the survey questioned more than 1,000 people of working age in all professions and found that 91% admitted personal events affect them at work.

It shows that miscarriage, the death of someone close, and serious illness are the top three life milestones that people find hardest to deal with. These events are costing UK employers 15bn a year in lost productivity, it concludes.

Nearly two-thirds of staff find it hard to concentrate at work during these times, 54% are less productive and 43% take time off.

Most believed employers should provide support and advice to help staff deal with problems, and 91% felt employers should recognise when staff are stressed or unable to cope with workloads.

Carl Tisone, chief executive of PPC Worldwide, said: “If you support staff through life’s challenges, they will be more productive, absent less often and pose less of a risk in the workplace.”

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