Over half of workers suffer poor mental health – due to comparing themselves to colleagues

By Staff

Some of the top areas in which they measure themselves against those they work with include job performance and work ethic

It seems comparison really is the thief of joy, as half of employed Brits (51%) say their mental health is taking a hit – due to comparing themselves with their colleagues.

Some of the top areas in which they are most likely to measure themselves against those they work with include job performance, work ethic, and productivity levels.

And over a quarter (27%), of the 2,000 adults surveyed, would compare their work-life balance to that of their colleagues, while 22% would do the same when it comes to how much they earn.

In fact, 29% feel comparison is becoming “increasingly rife” in the workplace, with the average worker doing so three times a day – adding up to 15 times in a standard working week.

This leaves people feeling frustrated (7%) and unsuccessful (12%) – with just 5% saying they feel motivated when comparing their work achievements with others, and even fewer (4%) left feeling happy.

The findings emerged in the annual Mind Health report from AXA UK and Ireland, examining the country’s mental health.

And Tara Foley, CEO of the insurance company, said: “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%) and LinkedIn (20%), were seen as fuelling increased comparisons. In fact, 69% 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%), poor work-life balance (52%), and a sense of worthlessness (34%), 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%, up from 33% in 2022) – with just 18% claiming to be flourishing.

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

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

Triggers for such feelings of comparison most often come when hearing about colleagues being praised (28%) – followed by learning about promotions (25%) and pay rises (24%). In fact, the OnePoll.com figures revealed that 17% think job titles should be done away with altogether, 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.”


  1. Job performance
  2. Work ethic
  3. Work-life balance
  4. Productivity levels
  5. How much they earn
  6. Stress levels
  7. Career progression
  8. Level of recognition
  9. General levels of happiness
  10. Leadership skills
  11. Dress sense
  12. How they look
  13. Influence in the workplace
  14. Fitness levels
  15. Levels of education
  16. Overall levels of success
  17. Creativity
  18. Job titles
  19. Rapport with senior stakeholders
  20. Number of friends

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *