National Stress Awareness Day
This week saw the 13th annual National Stress Awareness Day. The day, founded by the International Stress Management Association, aims to increase public understanding of a condition that affects thousands of people and businesses across the UK, yet one that is still woefully neglected by a worrying number of employers. Stress awareness is not only about keeping staff healthy and happy - ignoring it can also have a real effect on the bottom line.
A recent survey found that stress-related ill health is the most common cause of long-term absence for almost one in six employers (15%). This is the second highest cause of absence behind home and family issues (20%), and is even ahead of acute medical conditions such as heart attacks.
The problem of stress seems to be worse in the public sector, with 27% of public sector employers citing this as their main cause of absence compared with 13% in the private sector. Following a year of budget cuts and redundancies, it indicates that these pressures have had an impact on the health of the workforce.
As a result of high absence levels through stress, almost one in five employers (19%) stated that stress or other mental health issues are the biggest health-related problem for their business. This percentage rises to over a quarter (27%) for businesses with over 100 members of staff.
Employers must take workplace stress seriously or they risk losing both their competitive edge and their best people. Should we continue to ignore the problem, we do so at our peril - in such difficult times, a stress epidemic is the last thing that the economy needs.