Line managers too stressed to help staff

Line managers are too stressed and have little time to help employees deal with stress, according to research by health insurer Bupa.

The research, which was conducted to support Bupa’s Healthy Minds programme, surveyed 6,000 employees across a range of industries and job titles.

It found that more than half (51%) of respondents who are line managers feel constantly worried in the workplace, while 47% often worry about work while at home.

Almost two-thirds (67%) of line managers are likely to keep quiet about being stressed and only 12% would speak to their own manager about their stress levels. One in six (15%) are concerned doing so would make them appear weak.

Nearly a third (29%) have no time to deal with stress and a quarter (25%) feel too stressed to deal with the issues of others.

The research also found:

  • 21% of middle managers have felt stressed for more than a year.
  • 12% feel close to the breaking point.
  • 43% of middle managers think the pressure they are under at work is too great.
  • 40% have experienced depression as a result of stress.

The top five reasons for stress at work are workloads (22%), trying to meet targets (11%), office politics (10%), restructuring and lack of job security (9%), and clients and customers (7%).

Patrick Watt (pictured), corporate director of Bupa Health Funding, said: “Mental illness has been recognised in most other parts of society, but remains heavily stigmatised in business. Few people are prepared to discuss their worries openly.

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“This research shows that there is still not enough support within businesses at any level of the organisation. Work is not going to get less stressful.

“We need to get better at recognising the early signs of stress and mental health issues in ourselves and our colleagues, and promoting a culture that encourages people to speak up and ask for help.”