Workplace stress is a serious issue for UK employers. It is an issue that has no respect for position or seniority – it is just as likely to affect a new recruit in the post room as the chief executive.
In fact, it already does: it is now the single biggest cause of sickness absence in the UK and costs UK industry £3.7 billion each year. In the UK over 13 million working days are lost every year because of stress. Stress is believed to trigger 70% of visits to doctors, and 85% of serious illnesses (UK HSE stress statistics).
It actually makes good sense for employers to tackle stress at work. Stressed „companies‟ have lower productivity and increased management pressures. Workplace stress affects how well staff perform including memory, concentration and the ability to learn.
When you think that one in five people at work report it as a problem, you can see how much companies have to gain by dealing with the issue; they could cut significant amounts of staff sickness, absence and management time and improve morale. In employer terms, that‟s like winning the National Lottery!
On the other hand, companies are also risking a lot by not dealing with stress at work. Disgruntled employees can – and do – take them to court. Businesses in this situation could face significant damages, bad publicity and loss of reputation.
Stress and professions
In the UK, the Health & Safety Executive publishes data on the most stressful professions. Top of the table are nursing and teaching, with 2% of workers at any one time suffering from serious work-related stress, depression and anxiety. Next come care workers, managers and professionals. Here 1% suffer from serious work-related stress at any one time. The HSE data reveals that work-related stress affects men and women equally. However there is a period at work when it becomes a particular problem – from the age of 45 to retirement.