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Research by Hardvard on stress and wellness

Do bosses in Asia Pacific really know why their staff are stressed?

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Bosses may be focused on deciphering ways to de-stress their staff – but do they really know why their employees are stressed in the first place?

Not really, according to the Asia Pacific findings of Willis Towers Watson’s new 2015/2016 Staying@Work survey.

The survey found a disconnect between bosses and staff is most apparent when it comes to identifying sources of stress.

While employees’ top cause of stress was found to be low pay, employers ranked low pay to be only number 10 on the list of workers’ stressors.

Conversely, employers incorrectly ranked the lack of work/life balance as the leading source of workplace stress – employees said it is actually fourth on their list. Employers also under appreciated the stress caused by a poor company culture that lacks teamwork and accountability.

Here are the top 10 causes of stress cited by employers and employees:

Willis Towers Watson


“Reducing stress and improving wellbeing is more than the sum of the individual programmes. By understanding employees’ challenges, employers can build trust with them on personal health issues,” said Cedric Luah, head of health & benefits — Asia and Australasia, Willis Towers Watson.

“Employers need to look at the entire employee experience, including their family members and lives outside of work. Such efforts can pay off in the form of stronger employee engagement and retention as well as less stress-related illness and absenteeism.”

Despite such benefits, the report highlighted that only one in three (33%) of Asia Pacific organisations have an articulated health and productivity (H&P) strategy.

The top barriers to implementing a H&P strategy included inadequate budget and/or staff (41%), and insufficient evidence to build a case for the required investment (37%).

Lack of actionable data and employee engagement were often cited as barriers too.

ALSO READ: The top 5 triggers of stress at work today

However, by 2018, more than three-quarters of companies (83%) said they plan to have a strategy, with a substantial portion (35%) planning to differentiate their health and wellbeing programmes for critical segments of the workforce.

“Our research shows that employers in Asia have big aspirations,” said Dr. Rajeshree Parekh, director of health and corporate wellness for Asia and Australasia at Willis Towers Watson.

“The journey to health and wellness is a long one. Building a health and productivity strategy takes considerable effort and organisational resolve. Setting objectives that resonate with employees, and then delivering on the strategy’s promises is a journey, not a race.”

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