New research from Employee Satisfaction specialists Maven Research suggests that the credit crunch is testing our nerves at work, with 61% saying that they are feeling under more pressure than they were a year ago, and one in seven workers (15%) now seeking professional help (psychotherapy, counselling or medication) to try to combat stress.
Those working long hours, anti-social hours, and senior management suffer the highest levels of stress.
The research shows that those who are insecure about keeping their jobs are twice as likely to suffer severe work stress - suggesting that as job insecurity rises, we will see stress at work rising too.
Workers themselves named workload, pay, IT systems, and paperwork as the major contributors to stress at work, but analysis of the most stressed-out workers suggested that management of workload, social isolation at work, uncaring management and a “grit your teeth and bear it” attitude were the key underlying stress risk factors.
Work that lurks
Giving workers control over when and where they work has relatively little impact on stress levels, it is flexibility about workload that is the biggest single predictor of stress – those who say that their work ‘just piles up’ if they are off work are six times more likely to suffer severe stress than those whose workload does not build up when they are sick.
The UK labour force survey (2007/8) suggests that 13.5 million working days were lost as a result of severe stress last year. Maven’s research suggests that around 82% of workers under severe stress say that their workload just piles up if they take time off, suggesting a ‘lurk-load’ of around 11 million working days, created by taking time off for stress – a truly vicious circle!
Hell is other people
A third of us find our own colleagues a source of stress at work, but those under the most stress were significantly more likely to point the finger at their colleagues or ‘office politics’.
The most common ‘bad behaviours’ of colleagues were not pulling their weight (52%), bad manners (38%), moaning about work (34%), talking too loudly (28%) and gossiping, and favouritism of senior management (25%).
The ideal office: PCs, pillows, pets, partners, and a nice cup of tea
The research also gathered ideas from workers about what their employers could do to combat stress, what they would bring with them from home to make work better, and what they couldn’t live without at work. The most commonly mentioned employer initiative was to provide areas for rest and relaxation, which ties in with what workers want to bring from home – soft furnishings from sofas to beds to cushions, pets and even partners were common mentions. And far and away the most-mentioned workplace essential was tea, with IT equipment, particularly PCs, coming some way behind.
Putting these together, it seems most of today’s offices are a very long way from workers’ ideal!
Kathryn Courtenay-Evans, M.D. of Maven Research commented:
“The more hours and the more responsibility workers take on, the higher their level of stress rises – for too many workers, career progression is simply a path to greater stress.
In these times of rising job insecurity, it is vital that workplaces offer the opportunity for constructive dialogue about stress and workload – and a few more ‘home comforts’ would clearly be welcomed!”
Original research was carried out online using a cascading recruitment methodology, a final sample of 206 UK workers was achieved, and responses were weighted so as to be broadly representative of the UK workforce. Estimates for numbers of UK employees under severe stress (those in the LFS who describe work-related stress as ’causing ill health’) were taken from the Labour Force Survey 2008).
Further Information and contact details:
For more press info, photos or to set up an interview, please contact Emma Bennett at Munro Global tel. 01494 688400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Maven Research a specialist in automotive, financial services, business services and employee engagement research, has pioneered the use of web and other technologies in building new and flexible client interfaces. www.maven.co.uk
Parent company Munro Global was formed in June 2006. It aims to become a recognised centre of excellence in the provision of research-focused marketing services solutions. Group turnover for 2008 exceeded £10million. www.munroglobal.net
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