Hong Kong employees are absent from work for an average of 8.3 days a year, incurring annual economic losses of HK$5.3 to HK$14.9 billion (US$682 million to US$1.9 billion), said a researcher from the city’s Lingnan University recently.
Results indicate that 29.6% of respondents experience “very high tension” from work.
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, said Siu.
“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,” she noted.
Siu suggested that the government can take the lead by encouraging communication between employers and employees while employers can 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,” she said.
Conducted between August 2017 and March 2019, the research team—led by Professor Liu Oi-ling, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Chair Professor Applied Psychology at Lingnan—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.
The survey forms part of the research conducted by the university on the “Influence of Work Stress on Society and Economy in Hong Kong”, commissioned by the city’s Occupational Safety and Health Council.