Stress Levels

Posted in : HR Updates on 13 February 2012
Helen O'Brien
Personnel and Training Services
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Helen O'Brien writes:

Research has shown that there has been a rise in stress levels among UK workers, where some have been turning to drink to deal with their anxieties.

Nearly half (48%) of the adult workers surveyed by Croner are more or much more stressed than 12 months ago.

The survey of over 1,200 adult workers carried out by YouGov reveals that higher unpaid workloads (57%) and performance pressures (45%) are being held to blame for this big rise in stress levels amongst those who are more stressed in their work than 12 months ago. The need to work longer hours (34%) and the imposition of pay freezes (33%) are also significant factors revealed in the research by Croner (, the UK experts in workplace information, software and services, and part of Wolters Kluwer.

Amy Paxton, a senior employment consultant at Croner says: “The fact that 48% of the workers we surveyed say they are more stressed as a result of work, than a year ago should be a real wake-up call for employers. At a time when many industries are under such pressure to keep their heads above water, or even survive, employers cannot afford to have such high levels of stress and the associated difficulties it can cause in their organisations.

From the answers we received in the survey it’s clear that work related stress is on the increase among the UK workforce. Perhaps this is not too surprising but it’s really important then that employers are absolutely clear about the effect the performance of their organisation is having on their workforce. 

“Lack of communication or lack of transparency often creates an absence of trust and can undermine the relationship between managers and employees. This sets the scene for employee insecurity and dissatisfaction, too often resulting in higher stress levels.”

Stress clearly affects people in different ways: the Croner survey asked respondents how they cope with it. Eating and drinking more alcohol and becoming less friendly towards family, friends and colleagues are all cited as ways of overcoming their worries.

Amy Paxton says: “There is a legal requirement for all employers to provide a safe and healthy working environment for staff. It is important to identify the sources of stress and if possible solutions should be aimed at eliminating or at least reducing the impact of these sources. In most situations, it is not always possible to identify the causes, in which case some general principles might be useful.

“Stress can be reduced by improving working conditions, restructuring jobs and allowing more flexible working arrangements. A supportive work ethos and a climate in which staff are encouraged to openly discuss their concerns can also help.

“Moreover There is evidence to suggest that a range of stress management programmes can have a beneficial impact on employees, even those who have not shown any symptoms.” 

Note: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2133 adults of which 1268 were workers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 9th - 11th November 2011. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

This article is correct at 10/11/2015

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Helen O'Brien
Personnel and Training Services

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