HR has part to play in reducing stress levels

Workplace
stress levels are rising worldwide with research showing that seven out of 10
women and a third of men would sacrifice income for more free time.

Based
on findings from 1,000 firms in 24 countries, the study shows that the more
senior the role, the longer the working hours, with the average working week
being 50 hours.

Most
managers reported that stress levels were rising annually because of normal
business rather than exceptional circumstances, according to the study by
Arbora, the international career management network.

It
also found that a third of businesses have no flexible work policy. Companies
with more liberal policies on hours, telecommuting and work-life balance –
mainly in the USA and Scandinavia – reported lower stress levels.

Frances
Cook, international director at career consultancy Penna Sanders & Sidney,
said HR had a role in helping employers understand that the best employee “is
not necessarily a martyr to their career but someone who wants to lead a
fulfilling professional and personal life”.

“HR
departments should try to broker new contracts between the organisation and its
workforce, which looks to benefit both,” she said.

Dr
Diana Winstanley, senior lecturer in HR Management at Imperial College
Management School, said that organisations should think strategically about the
short- and long-term use of staff. 
“People-centred policies, which avoid burn-out, are sustainable over the
long term,” she said.

By
Lisa Bratby

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