Work is the most stressful factor in peoples’ lives, with one in three people (34 percent) saying their work life was either very or quite stressful, above debt or financial problems (30 percent) and health (17 percent).
This is according to a study of 2000 people conducted by mental health charity Mind.
Frustration with poor management was cited as the top cause of workplace stress – 32 percent said this was either very stressful or quite stressful. One in four (26 percent) cited excessive workload, while 25 percent pointed to insufficient support from managers. A quarter (25 percent) cited unrealistic targets.
Other revelations from the survey:
- One in five people (19 percent) take a day off sick because of stress, but 90 percent give a different reason for their absence
- One in ten (nine percent) have resigned from a job due to stress, while 25 percent have considered resigning due to work pressure
- One in five (19 percent) felt they couldn’t tell their boss if they were overly stressed
- Of the 22 per cent of those surveyed who have a diagnosed mental health problem, less than half (10 per cent) had actually told their boss about their diagnosis.
Line managers reported wanting to do more to improve staff mental wellbeing, but 56 percent said they required more training and guidance. A further 46 percent said this wasn’t a priority in their organisation.
Employers don’t believe managers are being proactive in tackling workplace stress – just one in five people said they felt their line manager took active steps to help staff manage stress (22 percent) or mental health conditions (19 percent).
These statistics do not really come as a surprise – we’ve known about the ‘stigma’ of mental health for a long time. For HR, this stigma can have negative effects on employee happiness, productivity and long-term engagement, all of which have a knock-on effect on the bottom line.
HR must tackle taboos and ensure that all discussions around mental health, including self-reporting by managers, are handled as transparently and maturely as possible. Recognising that positive mental health is a major factor in business success is crucial, and offering support to promote healthy mental health among employees should be a priority for any HR department.
Chief Executive of Mind, Paul Farmer, said: ‘Work related mental health problems are an issue too important for businesses to ignore. Our research shows that employees are still experiencing high levels of stress at work, which is negatively impacting their physical and mental health. We know that right now, one in six workers is experiencing depression, stress or anxiety and yet our survey tells us that most managers don’t feel they have had enough training or guidance to support them.
‘Improving mental wellbeing in the workplace doesn’t have to cost a lot. Our research shows that people whose organisations offered flexible working hours and generous annual leave said such measures supported their mental wellbeing. Three in five people said that if their employer took action to support the mental wellbeing of all staff, they would feel more loyal, motivated, committed and be likely to recommend their workplace as a good place to work.’
Jamie Lawrence is editor of global online HR publication and community HRZone.com. He is committed to driving forward the HR agenda and making sure that HR directors have the knowledge and insight necessary to make HR felt across the whole organisation. He regularly speaks to audiences of 250+ and has interviewed key HR industry names,...