According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS) stress is responsible for 40 per cent of all work-related illnesses. In terms of numbers this makes up an incredible 428,000 cases out of a total of 1.07 million across the UK. What may be more surprising is that the number of cases has been remained almost the same for the last ten years.
If you were wondering which jobs report the highest stress, they are: health professionals (particularly nurses), teaching and educational professionals and those in the caring personal services (particularly welfare and housing associate professionals).
Principal causes of stress:
- Work pressure
- Lack of managerial support
- Violence or bullying in the work place
Size makes a difference
Where workplace stress is concerned smaller is better. If you work in a small business you are far less likely to be stressed than if you work with a large company. Organisations with fewer than 50 employees showed the lowest prevalence of stress, with around 1.04 percent of staff reporting the condition. Medium sized workplaces (50-249 employees) came next with 1.14 percent while large workplaces (250+ employees) showed the highest levels – 1.178 per cent.
Signs that staff are stressed
- There has been a decline in an individual’s performance
- Mistakes they would not normally make have started cropping up
- Employees seem indecisive or are second-guessing themselves
- Reluctance to commit to work
- Work patterns have changed – leaving early, staying later or being absent
- Individuals seem withdrawn, resigned or unmotivated
Effects of stress on businesses
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), stress affects one in five workers and work-related stress results in the loss of around 10.4 million work days per annum; with more women (56 per cent) than men (44 per cent) reporting it. Fortunately, the situation has been improving and the figures represent a drop from around 12.9 million in 2001-02. As the overall number of cases has remained largely unchanged this reduction may have come about because staff are returning to work more quickly or are receiving better treatment. When staff are off for an extended period it can take its toll on business operations, including increasing the burden on other staff, who may have to cover additional responsibilities. On top of this there is the financial cost to employers, which is estimated at £1.24 billion, to say nothing of the effects on staff themselves.
Benefits of taking action
- Fewer accidents and near misses
- Lower rates of absenteeism
- Better morale among employees
- Greater work productivity
- Better staff retention and consequently lower costs of recruitment and training
- Enhanced corporate reputation
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