A quarter of employees have taken holiday to deal with excessive workplace stress

Leaving work due to stress

A quarter (26%) of employees have taken paid time off or holiday leave to deal with excessive stress caused by work, according to research by Dolan Contractor Group.

The survey of employees at 140 organisations also found that long work hours (41%) was the greatest cause for stress in the workplace, followed by pressure to meet deadlines (32%). Meanwhile, more than one in four (29%) employees cited being stressed about low pay and being unable to build their financial savings. 

Only 11% of those surveyed said they had never been affected by excessive stress in the workplace. 

To combat stress, 15% of employees have taken unpaid leave. A quarter, (26%) said they would speak to their manager, while 6% said they would leave the issue alone and hope it would get better. 

Almost three in 10 (28%) felt that their stress was caused by the inflexible working hours in their workplace.

Altogether, 32% of respondents stated that they had dealt with excessive stress by getting a new job entirely, either in the same industry (16%) or in a new one (16%).

Lauren Monks, group operations director at Dolan Contractor Group, said: “[This study] outlines the key areas that cause stress and so gives us and employers insight to help reduce stress in the workplace.

“Stress is prevalent in all areas of work and across all industries regardless of the way you work, as a traditional employee or via your own limited company or umbrella employment, though contractors and freelancers are rarely mentioned in the conversation for stress in the workplace and mental wellbeing.”

Richard Holmes, director of wellbeing at Westfield Health, added: “Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Pressure at work is usually the main culprit and when budgets are tight and teams are small, people often find themselves with multiple roles and heavy workloads, piling on the stress.

“Policies like flexible or remote working can help employees balance work and home life, and things like turning off email servers outside of working hours helps ring-fence valuable recovery time. Mental health first aid training can also help managers spot the signs or triggers and put preventions in place.”