Employees still hiding workplace stress, survey finds

Research to mark National Stress Awareness Day on 5 November has revealed that UK employees are experiencing worrying levels of stress.

Over half (56 per cent) of those surveyed for the research said they found work very or fairly stressful, significantly more than those troubled by debt or financial problems (38 per cent), health (29 per cent) or relationships (20 per cent).

The YouGov survey, commissioned by Mind, found that among the more than1,250 people questioned, one in five (20 per cent) said workplace stress had put a strain on their marriage or other significant relationships. More than half (53 per cent) said it had affected their sleep and 27 per cent their physical health.

Factors deemed very or fairly stressful included excessive workload (52 per cent), frustration with poor management (54 per cent), not enough support from managers (47 per cent), unrealistic targets (45 per cent) and the threat of redundancy (27 per cent).

Nearly a third (30 per cent) of respondents said they would not be able to talk openly with their line manager if they were stressed. A total of 14 per cent of respondents had a diagnosed mental health problem, but less than half (45 per cent) of these had told their employer.

Where people had taken time off work as a result of stress, only five per cent said they had told their employer this was the main reason for their absence.

Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind, said: “We know employers are starting to take mental health at work more seriously, but clearly still have a long way to go in helping tackle the causes of stress and poor mental health at work. People still don’t feel comfortable talking about mental health at work or telling their employer if they’ve been off sick with stress.

“Employers don’t necessarily need to put in place costly interventions – small, inexpensive measures can make a huge difference to staff wellbeing.”

Palmers’ employment law specialist Lara Murray said: “Employers have duties under health and safety law to assess risks from work-related stress and take steps to control these. They also have a duty under common law to take reasonable care to ensure the health and safety of workers.

“So if a worker suffers from stress-related ill health and a court decides that the employer should have been able to prevent it, they could be found to have been negligent and be required to pay compensation.

“Our team can provide expert advice to employers on actions they need to take to safeguard their employees from stress, including carrying out stress risk assessments to identify measures that ought to be taken..

“I recently supported a new non-profit social enterprise, Motivated Minds, at its launch in Basildon town centre. Motivated Minds offers a complete workplace well-being provision, starting with a holistic well-being appraisal using either questionnaire, interview and/or observational methods. Employers would be well advised to look into these types of services to facilitate improved well-being and engagement.

“For more information, please contact us.”