LU study finds work stress costs Hong Kong HK$14.9 billion a year
Hong Kong employees play truant from work for an average of 8.3 days a year, incurring annual economic losses of HK$5.3 to HK$14.9 billion, according to a recent study led by Prof Siu Oi-ling, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Chair Professor of Applied Psychology.
Conducted between August 2017 and March 2019, the research team interviewed 2,032 employees aged between 18 and 70 from eight local major industries: education; construction; transportation; finance and insurance; public administration; human health and social work; accommodation and food; and the import/export and wholesale/retail trades.
Nearly one-third (29.6 per cent) of respondents experience “very high tension” from work. Over 30 per cent of workers in education, construction and transportation are under “heavy pressure”.
Prof Siu says stress at work can lead to absenteeism, family issues or feigned sickness. Economic losses may also be incurred at work - workers may not be effective due to illness or procrastination.
Projecting this onto Hong Kong’s whole population of employees, the annual economic cost of stress could be as much as HK$14.9 billion.
Prof Siu suggests the government take the lead by encouraging communication between employers and employees, and suggesting employers provide adequate support for their staff, including updating equipment and supplies, more on-the-job training and flexible work arrangements - measures to enhance the work-life balance.
Management should be a role model, and establish incentives for desirable performance and attendance rates. Employees should be able to relax, stay positive and exercise regularly to maintain a healthy lifestyle, Prof Siu adds.
This survey forms part of the research conducted by LU on the “Influence of Work Stress on Society and Economy in Hong Kong”, commissioned by the Occupational Safety and Health Council.
Prof Siu Oi-ling