Employers dismiss stress claims as ‘just an excuse’

The issue of stress is driving a wedge between employers and their staff
with workers increasingly reporting the problem, but bosses regularly
dismissing them as malingerers.

A new survey from law firm Peninsula has highlighted the growing dichotomy
of opinion around workplace stress, with 91 per cent of workers admitting to
feeling stressed, but almost 70 per cent of employers believing it to be ‘just
an excuse’.

Despite a growing recognition of the effect that stress can have on
individual and organisational productivity, seven in 10 employers consider it
to be ‘just a phase’ that doesn’t merit time off work.

Although 76 per cent of the 958 employers polled admitted they were
concerned stress was having a negative affect on employees, 62 per said it was
not a reasonable excuse for taking time off.

Only a quarter believe staff should be excused from work if they are
suffering from stress, while 13 per cent said that staff could stay at home
only very occasionally.

Conversely, 77 per cent of the 4,125 employees in the survey have already
taken time off to come to terms with stress.

The conflicting opinions between employees and managers was so great that 65
per cent would not even admit they were stressed to their employer.

The Peninsula research also found a further 79 per cent of employees felt
organisations were failing to understand the seriousness of the problem.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) warned that high
stress levels would lead to increased staff turnover and absence.

CIPD employee relations adviser Ben Willmott said employee morale and
productivity were also important considerations. He added that firms ignoring
the need to manage workplace stress effectively also risk possible enforcement
action by the Health & Safety Executive under the Health and Safety at Work

By Ross Wigham

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