Almost half (45%) of all education workers have put their health at risk by putting off visiting a doctor, according to new research by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
The BHF polled over 1,300 UK workers and found seven in ten workers in the education industry had gone into work despite feeling too unwell to do their job. A quarter had postponed hospital appointments because of their job, while one in six have missed a routine health check-up.
Almost half of education employees (47%) said their work has had a negative impact on their health in the last five years, with over a fifth (22%) fearing their stress levels could lead to a heart attack.
One of the main reasons workers put their job first was they felt they had too much work to do to take time off, while some felt that employee health and wellbeing was not a high priority for their employer.
The BHF is calling on all education employers to reverse this trend by making health in the workplace a top business priority. The charity says the businesses that do this reap the benefits of improved employee health and morale as well as increased productivity and a healthier bottom line.
Sickness absence costs UK businesses an estimated £29 billion a year. However, research shows 82% of companies with employee wellness programmes saw reduced sickness absence and 33% saw reduced staff turnover.
Through its Health at Work programme, the BHF works with more than 9,500 organisations to set up schemes that help workers be more active, eat a better diet, quit smoking and reduce their stress.
Lisa Young, project manager for the BHF’s Health at Work programme, said: “This research is another reminder that health and wellbeing at work isn’t taken seriously enough, with millions of people putting their health at risk because of the stresses of their job.
“Delaying medical attention no matter what your ailment can come at a terrible cost, not only to people’s long term health but also to businesses.
“From working with more than 9,500 organisations across the UK, we’ve seen the businesses that invest in health at work reap the rewards of improved productivity, less sickness absence, higher retention and a healthier bottom line. Making this a higher priority should be a simple business decision.”