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Why Workers Are Stressed

May 14, 2013
A new poll reveals that job insecurity, job reorganization and high workloads are the most common causes of occupational stress among workers in Europe.

According to a poll conducted among workers in Europe and released by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), job insecurity or job reorganization are the most common causes of work-related stress in Europe.

According to the poll results, 51 percent of European workers consider work-related stress common, with 16 percent considering it “very common.” About 40 percent of respondents believe stress is not handled well at their workplaces.

“We are very much focused on tackling psychosocial risks, such as stress, in the workplace,” said EU-OSHA Director Christa Sedlatschek. “Next year, we will launch our Healthy Workplaces Campaign on managing stress. The message to be conveyed across European companies of different sizes and sectors is that psychosocial risks can be dealt with in the same logical and systematic way as other health and safety issues.”

Key poll findings include:

  • Female workers (54 percent) are more likely than male workers (49 percent) to say that work-related stress is common.
  • Employees aged 18-54 (53 percent) also were more likely to consider work stress common, compared with workers over age 55 (44 percent).
  • Those working in health or care work were the most likely say causes of work-related stress are common (61 percent, including 21 percent who say causes are “very common”).
  • Seven in 10 (72 percent) workers across Europe who say work-related stress is rare in their workplace also say it is controlled well, while conversely six in ten (58 percent) workers who say work-related stress is common where they work also believe that it is not controlled well. 
  • The most common cause of work-related stress across Europe is perceived to be job insecurity or job reorganization (72 percent) followed by hours worked or workload (66 percent).
  • Unacceptable behaviors such as bullying or harassment are perceived as a common cause of work-related stress by 59 percent of workers.

The Aging Work Force

The report also addressed perceptions surrounding the aging work force, and indicated that there is a low awareness of programs to make it easier for employees to continue working up to or beyond the retirement age.

One in eight workers (12 percent) are aware of policies and programs in their workplaces making it easier for older workers to continue working up to or beyond retirement age. Among those who are not aware of such programs and policies, 61 percent support their introduction.

Additional perceptions surrounding workers over the age of 60 include:

  • Only two in ten workers (22 percent) perceive older workers to have more accidents at work than other workers
  • Around three in ten (28 percent) think that older workers aged 60+ are less productive at work than other workers;
  • 42 percent think that older workers tend to suffer more from work-related stress than other workers, while slightly more workers think the converse (48 percent); and
  • 60 percent believe that workers over the age of 60 are less likely to be able to adapt to changes at work than other workers, and this perception is held by half (49%) of older workers aged 55+ (though it should be noted one in three of all workers (33%) believe that it is other workers who are less able to adapt to changes at work).

This was the third edition of the pan-European opinion poll conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA).

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