Study: Workplace Stress Effecting Productivity, Health

Stress is a major problem in the UK affecting both productivity\r\nand health of the nation's workforce, according to the results of a\r\nsurvey.

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Stress is a major problem in the UK affecting both productivity and health of the nation''s workforce, according to the results of a survey from Unum, one of the country''s leading income protection insurers.

More than 1,200 workers in full and part-time employment throughout the country were questioned by researchers who discovered that more than two-thirds feel either stressed or under pressure at work.

Even more disturbing -- particularly for employers -- some 73 percent of workers said their performance in the workplace is affected by the level of stress they experience, according to the study.

"Until now, employers have associated stress with occasional headache or day off work," said Professor Cary Cooper of the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology. "However, they should be really concerned when three-quarters of workers say their performance is affected by stress. In addition to health, stress is also affecting the bottom line."

The research also indicates the potential scale of the problem, with 83 percent believing the workplace has become increasingly stressful over the past five years.

This is further illustrated by Unum''s figures which reveal that the number of mental and psychological claims have risen by an alarming 88 percent over the past seven years, while those for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are up by 40 percent.

Yet shorter working days and a more understanding boss would do most to tackle the problem, according to the survey.

This was followed by longer lunch breaks and the offer of message or reflexology sessions for employees.

Despite the alarming findings, Unum said people appear complacent about the risk of ever being off work through stress themselves, with 79 percent dismissing this as a possibility.

"The survey confirms that a combination of long working hours and an autocratic management style are key sources of stress in the workplace," said Cooper. "Employers need to move away from long working days as this does not result in increased efficiency -- only increased levels of illness. Managers should become more oriented towards a greater praise and reward culture, and should also adopt more flexible working arrangements to help strike a better balance between home and work."

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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