Workplace stress costs UK £100bn a year

Workplace stress costs 10% of the UK’s Gross National Product yet fewer than 10% of companies have official policy to tackle it, a report shows.

Mental health charity Mind has called on employers to act now to address the ever-rising stress levels at work.

It said 12.8 million working days a year are now lost to work-related stress alone, with 58% of workers complaining of job stress, costing the UK economy £100bn a year.

The report reveals that fewer than one in 10 companies have an official policy on mental health, although 98% of respondents to a recent CBI survey felt that mental health should be a company concern.

It shows that workplace stress can create mental ill health, or act as a trigger for existing mental health problems, which otherwise might have been successfully managed. 

Sources of stress in the workplace include poor working conditions, long hours, relationships at work, lack of job security, travel, organisational structure and climate, and generally a mismatch between job requirements and the individual’s capabilities, resources or needs. 

The report recommends employers, in addition to introducing policies on mental health in the workplace, look at using flexi-time, working from home, stress coaching, on-the-job support, keeping jobs open during sick leave, the provision of quiet rooms, exercise provision, training programmes and social activities.

Mind chief executive Richard Brook said: “We urge more understanding and openness of stress and mental health problems in the workplace. Today’s competitive and pressured work environments can make it very difficult for people to disclose mental health or work stress problems without the fear of affecting their career prospects.”

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