Today (Wednesday 1st November) is now recognised as International Stress Awareness Day, an initiative organised by the International Stress Management Association (ISMA) with the intent of limiting the damaging effects of stress on health and well-being. To mark the occasion, HR support providers Citation have revealed brand new research which aims to provide insight into the true effects of stress among the UK’s working population; however the results are nothing to celebrate.

With 11.7 million working days reportedly lost each year due to work-related stress, depression, and anxiety, and stress specifically accounting for nearly two-fifths of all these cases (according to the HSE’s 2015/16 statistics), it cannot be denied that ill health as a result of these factors is an issue that employers can no longer ignore. However the exact cause of such stress in not always apparent; that’s where Citation’s research comes into play.

The research - which incorporated responses from a nationally-representative sample of 2,000 working adults aged 18 and over - sought to identify the primary triggers which lead to stress in the typical workplace, and unsurprisingly found that the sheer scale of the workload ahead of them was leading to significant levels of stress for a staggering 36% of respondents.

Following in the list of common workplace stress triggers is the requirement to work long hours, as cited by 17% of respondents. For 11% however it was pressure from managers which was found to be causing the most stress.

Meanwhile, targets were blamed by 10% of respondents, 7% were negatively affected due to not getting along with their colleagues, and 6% felt they were not given enough breaks throughout the day. Other noted stress triggers include low salaries, a lack of job security, unfulfilling work, apparent favouritism, workplace gossip, and a lack of communication.

While this abundance of stress in the workplace has caused over a third (36%) of those surveyed to leave a job, the issue is apparently even more widespread amongst women; the research found that 41% of female workers had at some point left a job due to stress, compared to 32% of men.

Breaking it down to individual demographics, the research found that those between the ages of 18 and 24 were almost twice as likely as any other age group to encounter issues with their colleagues, while people aged 55 to 64 years were most likely to get stressed over long hours. Workers over the age of 65 were found to be the least concerned about targets and a lack of breaks, with those between the ages of 25 and 34 being most likely to deal with workplace stress in general.

As for why these problems remain unaddressed and are allowed to spiral out of control to this extent, 27% of respondents said they are reluctant to show signs of stress at work as they think it will make them look weak. 18% blame this reluctance on a worry that such complaints will affect their career; while 7% state that they simply do not feel comfortable approaching their manager with such issues.

Citation’s HR Business Partner, Jenny Ware, commented, “Stress can be a hidden and debilitating problem affecting your workforce. Left un-tackled, it can damage individuals’ wellbeing and the performance of your business.

“Stress affects each and every one of us at different times and to different degrees. Recognising when someone has moved from a healthy amount of pressure into a stressful situation can be vital in supporting their wellbeing, and in ensuring the performance of your team.”

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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