ALMOST a fifth of holiday leave taken by Southampton staff is spent worrying about work, a survey has suggested.

The report also says 40 per cent of the city’s employees have suffered from stress in the run-up to their summer break, during it and on their return to work.

More than a third of Southampton staff said their employer did not successfully support their wellbeing – despite the city coming third in a national wellbeing league table.

Nationally, more than a third of UK human resources professionals said their workplace did not do enough to prepare for staff holidays.

The second Wellbeing Index Report, from health insurer and wellbeing specialist Westfield Health, highlighted the issue of ‘leavism’, or working when on holiday. Thirteen per cent per cent of Southampton staff had done work when on leave and 18 per cent of holiday time was spent worrying about work, the survey suggests.

Westfield Health chief executive David Capper said: “Employees in Southampton are experiencing a vicious cycle of stress and anxiety that is having a detrimental impact on their wellbeing in the run up to, during and after they come back from their summer break, leaving them no time for vital recovery.

“Forty per cent of employees in Southampton have suffered from summer workplace stress and it shows no sign of slowing down; since we released our first Wellbeing Index Report in April, the amount of overtime across the UK has increased by 23 per cent and on average, employees have taken four days off for stress, anxiety or depression, rising to five in Southampton.”

In the run-up to the summer reason, only 45 per cent of Southampton workers said they had spent satisfactory time with family in the past three months, and 16 per cent described their mental health as poor.

Eighteen per cent said they had not done anything about their wellbeing in the past three months and only 35 per cent had been physically active. The biggest concerns were money (41 per cent) and lack of sleep (30 per cent).

Among working parents, 48 per cent though their workplace should be more supportive of staff with childcare responsibilities.

Despite this, Southampton was third in the report’s wellbeing league table – up from fifth last year. London and Nottingham took the top two places, based on financial, mental, social and physical wellbeing.

Mr Capper said: “The state of Southampton workplace wellbeing is at boiling point, with 34 per cent of employees saying their workplace culture does not successfully support them with their wellbeing.

“When thinking about how to avoid burnout and prioritise recovery time in the workplace, it can be tempting to just look at initiatives such as flexible working or working from home. But the answer also lies in workplace culture. There’s limited benefit in implementing strict rules on ‘leavism’ if senior leaders aren’t visibly living, breathing and prioritising those values.

“Cultural change takes time and requires input from people across the organisation. When employees see leaders practicing what they preach, it creates the psychological permission to mirror that behaviour. Creating an open culture also allows employees to speak openly about how they’re feeling, allowing managers to identify issues early and avoid a situation escalating to burnout.”

Mark Verstegen, founder and president of “human performance” company EXOS, told the report’s authors: “Recovery is a critical yet often undervalued aspect of performing at a high level day after day. Whether physiological or psychological, stress creates heightened demand on the brain and body which can accumulate and lead to fatigue, injury and a decline in performance. A consistent recovery routine helps build resilience to stress so you can bounce back quickly when it hits.”