Work related stress
The following information is the result of research carried out by the government Health and Safety Executive.
Work related stress develops because a person is unable to cope with the demands being placed on them. Stress, including work related stress, can be a significant cause of illness and is known to be linked with high levels of sickness absence, staff turnover and other issues such as more errors.
Official definition of work-related stress:
“The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work”
Days taken off due to stress-related illnesses
Stress in the workplace can prevent the sufferer from being able to focus on the task in hand. They will, in most cases, really not want to be there and commitment towards their work will decrease.
Stress forces staff to take sickness leave, meaning many days lost and an increase in costs for sick pay, sickness cover, overtime and recruitment.
Here are some research examples:
- A study by Ceridian of 1,050 employees revealed that 25% of sick days taken off are stress-related, and;
- Of those 1,050 employees 8,918 unscheduled days were taken in the last twelve months; an average of 8.5 days per employee.
- About 500,000 people are believed to be suffering from work-related stress or depression in the UK (BBC News research).
- Nearly 150,000 workers have taken at least a month off sick because of stress-related illness, costing British industry an estimated £370m a year (Health and Safety Executive), and;
- Work-related stress caused workers in Great Britain to lose 10.4 million working days in 2011/12, of which;
- Male workers accounted for an estimated 4.6 million days off work whilst female workers accounted for an estimated 5.8 million, and;
- Large size workplaces were estimated to have significantly higher days lost per worker than both medium and small size workplaces in 2011/12.
Average working days lost per worker (Labour Force Survey)
Note: No data collected in 2002/03
Self-reported ill health (by type) in 2009-2010
- Musculoskeletal disorders and stress were the most commonly reported illness types.
- In 2009/10 an estimated 1.3 million people who had worked in the last 12 months, and a further 0.8 million former workers, suffered from ill health which they thought was work related.
- The 2009/10 incidence rates for self-reported work-related stress was of a similar order to that in 2001/02, whereas the musculoskeletal disorders rate was statistically significantly lower than that in 2001/02.
Why take action?
There are so many benefits of tackling workplace-related stress, and everyone in an organisation has an important part to pay to help realise them. Here are a list of benefits, taken from HSE’s research:
- Reduced costs of sick pay, sickness cover, overtime and recruitment
- Improved return on investment in training and development
- Improved customer care and relationships with clients and suppliers
- Lower risks of litigation – because the company is complying with legal duties and its Corporate Social Responsibility
Benefits for individuals
- People feel more motivated and committed to their work
- Morale is high
- People work harder and perform better – increasing their earning power
- People feel that they are part of a team and the decision-making process, so accept change better
- Relationships – with managers and within teams – are better
- People are happy in their work and don’t want to leave
- Line managers can outwardly show their duty of care
- Line Managers can demonstrate good management skills that could help their promotability and career development
- Reduced staff turnover and intention to leave, so improving retention
- Better absence management
- Fewer days lost to sickness and absenteeism
- Fewer accidents
- Improved work quality
- Improved organisational image and reputation
- Better staff understanding and tolerance of others experiencing problems