57% of working days lost through illness in 2017/18 were due to workplace related stress. That’s the conclusion from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which has calculated that in that period 595,000 workers in the UK suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety. That represents an increase of 69,000 on the previous year; a rise which is supported by a CIPD survey which found that 55% of businesses saw an increase in stress levels in 2017.
Managing workplace stress starts at the top of businesses, with the leadership building a culture which looks towards promoting employee wellbeing at all levels. And within that culture people have to feel able to voice their concerns, to have a meaningful dialogue about work patterns and stress points, and to trust that action will be taken wherever possible.
Being honest, in a 24/7 world the chance of a total elimination of stress points is vanishingly small. But that doesn’t mean that actions can’t be taken in order to mitigate ongoing pressure points or to find other ways of working which turn the overwhelming into the manageable. Ever increasing stress levels are not only unhealthy for people, they also adversely affect business outcomes. So as we move into 2019 maybe it is time to look again at the culture, to build stress awareness, to open dialogue and to put plans in place to boost employee wellbeing.