Awareness day highlights workplace stress

Work-related stress issues lead to less engagement, more day-to-day physical health problems and a higher likelihood of day-to-day psychological health problems, according to research by wellbeing specialists Robertson Cooper.

The research, which coincides with National Stress Awareness Day on 7 November, found that, of the 47% of respondents who have encountered a major stressful event in the past six months, 30% of these were work-related. 

Professor Ivan Robertson, co-founding director of Robertson Cooper, said: “Challenging, demanding work is healthy and enables people to get a sense of achievement. Work that creates major stress is not healthy. It damages people and their productivity.

“As the evidence continues to grow on the effects of stress, it was no surprise to find that both sets of respondents who had encountered a major stressful event scored significantly less on all measures of health and wellbeing when compared to those who have not encountered a major stressful event.”

Another piece of research published to coincide with National Stress Awareness Day by life insurance and pension provider Friends Life, found that one-third (32%) of respondents have called in sick due to stress in their working life. Of these, more than half (52%) have called in sick due to stress in the last year.

David Williams, director of group protection at Friends Life, said: “There is still much work to be done to ensure that stress caused by the working environment is recognised as a serious condition that impacts on the wellbeing of the individual and the productivity of the [organisation].

“Employers need to be ever vigilant and prepared for signs of stress so measures can be taken early to help employees feeling under strain. By taking these steps, it can have a positive impact for business productivity and employee wellbeing.”

In tandem with National Stress Awareness Day, Robertson Cooper has launched an online community called Good Day at Work to help employers and wellbeing professionals learn, share experiences and drive change.

Professor Cary Cooper, co-founding director of Robertson Cooper, said: “We know the theory of what creates a Good Day at Work, the six essentials of workplace wellbeing, resilience, good leadership, and we know the positive effects it has on individuals and organisations.

“Putting this into practice is not always easy, nor is it just a job for HR. Individuals, managers and senior leaders in all teams have a responsibility for the wellbeing of themselves and others. Good Day at Work is here to support everyone to do exactly that. It’s about learning, sharing experience and driving change.”