Top 20 ways Brits compare themselves to colleagues – like work ethic and dress sense | City & Business | Finance


Job performance, work ethic, and dress sense are among the top ways we compare ourselves to our colleagues – with 51 percent admitting that doing so negatively impacts their mental health. Others observe their colleagues’ outfit choices (17 percent), leadership skills (17 percent), and even how fit people are (15 percent).

But the poll of 2,000 workers found they are more likely to compare to someone’s work-life balance (27 percent), than what they earn (22 percent). Employees compare themselves to others an average of three times a day – as many as 15 times over a five-day working week.

Tara Foley, chief executive officer at AXA UK and Ireland, said of the annual Mind Health report examining the country’s mental health: “In the UK, we are seeing a growing number of people battling with poor mind health – and, as people spend a large proportion of their lives working, a supportive workplace environment plays a critical role in addressing this.

“Research shows that workplace habits are a significant factor – like people comparing themselves unfavourably with their colleagues.

“The poor mind health associated with this behaviour comes at a huge cost to the UK and global economies, and employers have a duty to respond to this for the benefit of their employees and the wider society.”

TV personality and NHS doctor, Dr Alex George, who is working with AXA on their Mind Health campaign, said he has fallen victim to career comparison in the past.

He said: “It is something that is pretty much synonymous with medical training – you are quite literally ranked against every other doctor in the country when you graduate, from the best to the worst.

“At every stage of all career training and progression it is incredibly competitive. Whilst this can be a good thing, to push people to be the best they can be, it can be equally damaging to our mental health.

“We shouldn’t demonise comparison, because it is part of our human nature, so it isn’t the aim to never compare ourselves. But we do have to control it, and be able to enjoy other people doing well.”

Social media, such as Instagram (27 percent) and LinkedIn (20 percent), were seen as fuelling increased comparisons. In fact, 69 percent said such websites make it “easier than ever before” to compare yourself to others – even if it’s people you don’t work with.

Toxic workplace culture (57 percent), poor work-life balance (52 percent), and a sense of worthlessness (34 percent), were cited as some of the main reasons people would consider leaving a job.

And as a result of their work environment, three-quarters of the population are experiencing problems such as trouble sleeping, stress, lack of confidence, and loss of interest.

The AXA Mind Health study found more than half of the UK are currently not in a positive state of mental wellbeing, and an increasing number of people are suffering from a mental health condition (37 percent, up from 33 percent in 2022) – with just 18 percent claiming to be flourishing.

More than a quarter (28 percent) feel a career choice has had a negative impact on their mental health – with half of these (49 percent) regretting an increased workload, while 26 percent find themselves comparing themselves to colleagues more than ever before.

Outside of the workplace, 36 percent of respondents who compare themselves to others do so with friends, while 17 percent feel in competition with siblings.

But far from feeling happy (four percent) or motivated (five percent) when comparing their work achievements with others, adults are more likely to feel unsuccessful (12 percent) or frustrated (seven percent).

Triggers for such feelings of comparison most often come when hearing about colleagues being praised (28 percent) – followed by learning about promotions (25 percent) and pay rises (24 percent).

The figures also found 29 percent believe comparison is “increasingly rife” in the workplace – and 17 percent think job titles should be done away with, to reduce a sense of hierarchy.

Tara Foley added: “We know that the environment you create for people to work in is important, and we strive to create a workplace that fosters positive mind health by providing mental health support and strong employee networks.

“This helps prevent people from struggling with their mind health, enables them to recognise when they need support, and provides them with tools to enable them to move towards a more positive state of mind.

“We hope the AXA Mind Health Study will shine a spotlight on the impact that poor mind health is having, and demonstrate why identifying mind health issues early can be beneficial not only for individuals, but businesses, too.”

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