Stress - UK's biggest work-related ill health

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16 November 2017
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16 November 2017, Comments 0

Latest figures realised by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), states that 25.7 million working days were lost due to work-related ill health in 2016/17 and this year stress related ill health overtook musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s).

Stress is something that we all suffer from time to time, whilst some elements of stress can help motivate people and give a sense of ambition, excessive stress can lead to anxiety, depression and other serious mental health issues.

The National Stress Awareness Day is an annual awareness campaign that takes place on the first Wednesday of every November. The aim of the campaign is to highlight mental health problems that can develop due to excessive stress, especially now that it is UK’s biggest work related illness.

Work-related stress also accounted to 12.5 million working days lost (HSE, 2016/17). Public service industries such as education, human health and social care reported the highest absenteeism. Major causes of workplace stress were due to sudden changes at work (8%), harassment or workplace bullying (13%) and a lack of managerial support (14%). However, heavy workload with a tight deadline (40%) was the number one cause reported by the HSE.

In light of the above statistics, the HSE also launched their “Go Home Healthy” campaign which highlights the importance of organisations taking more responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of their employees. The campaign also highlights the number of working days lost due to work-related lung disease and musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s). Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert states that  “stress is now the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK”. There is also a link between stress and sufferers of work related MSD’s.

Employers should conduct a ‘Stress Risk Assessment’ to help identify the different types of work related stress affected by each employee. This would also help improve employee welfare. Naturally, there are tangible benefits to organisations looking to reduce work-related stress:

  • Staff will be happier and overall morale will improve
  • Increased productivity and performance
  • Reduce the number of absences or staff turnovers

As mentioned earlier, excessive stress can also lead to mental health issues, therefore employers should have an ‘open door policy’, encourage their staff to speak up and seek help as soon as possible.

Since excessive workload was the number one cause of work related stress, we have compiled some simple tips that would help your employees to tackle their workload:

  1. Organising work by planning ahead will help structure workload
  2. Once organised, prioritise each task so it will help determine the tasks that require more time, therefore efficiently managing workload
  3. Take occasional breaks. Get fresh air. This helps to regain focus and relieve stress
  4. It’s important to focus on one particular task at a time and finishing that before starting another.

The tips mentioned above will help provide an overall structure to an employee’s workload, thus allowing them to tackle each one without being excessively stressed. It’s very important to encourage staff to notify someone, if they find themselves struggling and remind them that there’s no shame in asking for help.

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