The research from Inclusive Employers found family difficulties (46%) was the most likely hidden issue at work, followed by mental health (31%).
It also found a generational divide, with 67% of employees aged between 18 -24 years old keeping something secret compared to 55% of those over aged 55 years or over.
The data, released for National Inclusion Week 2017, shows UK workers are still uncomfortable about having honest conversations at work. The research found this lack of openness can have negative impacts on workers and employers, with over a quarter of workers (26%) admitting they would feel less connected to their workplace if they hid an aspect of themselves and 18% saying their performance would suffer.
When asked what conversations employees found most difficult to have with their line manager, one in three (31%) found having conversations about their family and personal life the most challenging. Women are more likely to find this difficult, at 34%, compared to 28% of men. Salary negotiations were the next most cited difficult conversation, with 28% of workers finding it hard to discuss with management.
Set up by Inclusive Employers, National Inclusion Week takes place annually to raise awareness and highlight the importance and benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce. The theme for this fifth year is ‘Connect for Inclusion’, and is challenging organisations across the UK to take the opportunity to meet new people that differ from their everyday inner work circle, gain new perspectives and ideas and understand how to build a more inclusive workplace.
Richard McKenna, Director of Inclusive Employers, said: “It is worrying to see that even today, six out of 10 workers in the UK are keeping a part of their personality hidden at work. The fact that younger employees are more likely to hide things is in stark contrast to popular belief about Millennial Generation oversharing. In reality, they need to be supported around the complex conversations in the workplace and in how their manager will respond.”
He added: “The positive impact of a healthy and happy workforce on individuals and organisational performance has been well documented over the last few years. Employers now have an urgent need to ensure inclusion is understood as commercially critical rather than a charitable nice to have.”