A four-year study of 60,000 workers in six countries shows that UK employees stress level has risen by 10 percent since 2008, making it the highest out of the countries surveyed: the UK, the United States, Germany, China, Brazil and India.
“There has been a marked increase in workplace stress in every country, industry and job type, to the extent that it is now higher than at any time in the last four years,” said Dr Rena Rasch, research manager at the Kenexa High Performance Institute, who conducted the study.
“High stress levels increase absenteeism and decrease productivity. For individuals, stress causes sleep deprivation, headaches, high blood pressure and greater susceptibility to illness, which lowers well being and increases the chance of burn out.”
The main causes of employee stress, identified in the report, are work-life conflict; poor leadership and management behaviour; lack of job security; lack of team cohesiveness; lack of cooperation and dissatisfaction with the level of pay.
“With the economic downturn, a major cause of stress for many people is the sense that they have no control over the fate of their jobs,” said Dr Rasch. “In organisations where staff had been made redundant, the average employee stress level was nearly 40 percent, compared to just 25 percent for organisations which hadn’t made layoffs in the same period.”
According to the report, workers in the healthcare sector have the highest level of stress. However the public sector, financial services and retail sectors have seen the largest increases in stress since 2008. Employees in high-tech manufacturing report the least stress.
In terms of job role, frontline service and production workers have the most stress; upper and middle managers have the least. Men and women experience roughly equal levels of stress, though employees aged 55-64 report the highest levels of stress.