Less stress for employees aged over 56 years

Workers aged over 56 years experience significantly less stress than their younger colleagues,and different age groups are subject to different sources of stress in the workplace, according to new research.

The research was conducted by Lucy Watt from business psychologists Robertson Cooper, Sheena Johnson of the University of Manchester and their colleagues at the Universities of Liverpool and Lancaster. It presented at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology’s Annual Conference at the Bristol Marriott Hotel City Centre on January 11.

The study asked 4,735 workers from the educational sector about their stress levels. The majority of those asked were working in professional, administrative and secretarial roles. The results revealed that, in general, levels of stress increase as a worker ages but the researchers were surprised to discover that those aged over 56 years reported less stress than their younger colleagues. The results showed that age had a positive effect on general psychological well-being and that different age groups are stressed out by different aspects in the work place. For example, all age groups predicted stress in relation to the need for autonomy except for those under 25 years, a finding which could indicate younger people do not expect a lot of control over their work.

Professor Cary Cooper, director of Robertson Cooper, said: "This research provides important insights into how employers can manage workplace stress and suggests that by tailoring any anti-stress interventions to meet the needs of different age group organisations more efficiently, cost effectively and could ultimately maximise the potential of an ageing workforce."