Stress levels in the workplace

Posted: 17th October 2011

For the first time, stress has been reported as the most common cause of long-term sickness absence according to a survey carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. 39% of employers surveyed reported an increase in stress-related absence.

The survey also reveals a link between the economic climate and stress levels with 51% of employers who are planning to make redundancies in the next six months being likely to see an increase in mental health problems among their staff compared with 32% for those who are not planning redundancies.

The public sector, which has been hit hard by job cuts and pay freezes, has seen a significant increase in stress-related absence with 50% of public sector organisations surveyed reporting an increase.

This survey is likely to be of great concern to employers since they have a duty to take measures to control risks from work-related stress. Stress related illness can also significantly impact on productivity and the general morale in the workplace.

In response to the survey employment relations body, ACAS, has published 3 tips to help reduce stress. They advise employers to:

• remind themselves about the ‘chief stressors’ at work, for example work overload, and what measures they can take to combat them. Having a policy in place for dealing with stress is one suggestion Acas makes;

• manage absence effectively by asking their workers how they are feeling as part of a return to work interview;

• ensure that line managers are provided with adequate training so that they know how to respond to signs of stress.