Burnt Out or Burning Bright?

April 23, 2001
Mental well-being should be a matter for every company's board of\r\ndirectors, just as physical well-being and equality are currently\r\nconsidered, according to UK's Mental Health Foundation.

Mental well-being should be a matter for every company''s board of directors, just as physical well-being and equality are currently considered, according to UK''s Mental Health Foundation (MHF).

The claim comes in a new report from the MHF, "Burnt Out or Burning Bright?"

The research study into the effects of stress in the workplace also found that junior employees suffer more with workplace stress than senior executives. "Burnt Out or Burning Bright?" was compiled following discussions with a number of directors, senior executives and human resource managers at companies including Credit Suisse First Boston, Volvo Car UK Limited and Pearson plc.

This was supplemented by a review of current literature on stress at work.

"We were pleasantly surprised at just how willing companies were to discuss the issue of stress," said Ruth Lesirge, chief executive with the foundation. "The business world knows just how crucial this issue is, and the ways in which it may have a major impact on business. But their key requirement now is knowing where to start and how to tackle the problem of undue workplace stress."

The report found that most companies did not view stress as a mental health problem, as only "serious" diagnosable conditions were seen as mental health problems whereas it was recognized that stress is experienced at some point by everybody.

The senior executives questioned recognized that, for a variety of reasons, employees, particularly more junior employees, felt they had to hide their stress and were perhaps unable to recognize stress which could become unhealthy. At the same time, there was a recognition that senior executives were more aware of the need to manage their own stress. Senior executives manage stress by going to the gym, and re better able to take appropriate action, according to the study.

However, newer companies appeared to be more aware of the need to manage stress, perhaps because of their focus on people and knowledge-based services and so recognizing employees as an investment to be looked after.

A variety of approaches were mentioned including external counseling, shiatsu, a quiet room and discount sporting facilities.

Recommendations from the companies involved in the research included:

  • Stress should not be sidelined as part of human resources but a national campaign should be led by a mainstream champion of industry.
  • All companies employing more than 100 people should offer some kind of independent employee counseling service.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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