Statistics from the Health and Safety Executive have revealed that stress was responsible for almost 40% of the working days lost to ill health in the UK since the credit crisis began last year.
The research revealed that between 2007 and 2008, a massive 13,547,000 days were taken off due to work-related stress, depression and anxiety.
Now the GO Group, one of Europe’s largest business support organisations, is calling for businesses to learn how to recognise and avoid ‘negative’ stress in order to survive the recession. Lesley Meechan, deputy director of Learning and Development, explains:
“It is widely recognised that a certain amount of pressure at work can increase productivity and energy levels; this is what is known as positive stress. However, continuous and excessive stress must be avoided – it can have devastating effects on not only the health of businesses but also on the people who are running them.”
The GO Group runs a wide range of training and advisory services designed to help businesses grow and flourish through the recession. This includes ‘Mastering Stress’, a workshop that helps business people to combat stress and be more efficient at work. Meechan continues:
Meechan said: “We believe that by teaching people how to handle stress effectively we can help them to be healthier and more efficient during these difficult times. In turn, this will give the country’s economy a boost by reducing the number of working days lost to ill health.”
Liz Muir, owner – Esquire Coffee House said:
“Although I run a relatively small business and have a loyal customer base, recent goings-on have affected my outlook. Worrying about cash flow, borrowing, profit margins and overheads takes away from the day-to-day running of your business and can certainly affect your health.
“This in turn fills you with panic that you are somehow taking your eye off the ball. With so much pessimism around I believe business owners will start to feel more stressed and anxious – it’s inevitable. I’m fighting against it at the moment by trying to stay focused on the services I am offering and also keeping my existing customers happy.”
Gill Connelly, Managing Director – Talent to Task said:
“I’m an optimist so my view is that while some sources of business might stop, others will emerge – it’s definitely not all doom and gloom! Business will definitely be different from before and new sectors will present themselves for growth and profit. I think that entertainment and other forms of escapism will flourish.”
Kevin Ashcroft, Managing Director – OCD said:
“Doom and gloom seems to dominate the headlines at the moment and I can understand why this would cause many business owners to feel anxious and stressed out. I avoid reading negative business stories. I believe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy; if people are told that things are bad often enough then they will start to believe it, and this can definitely have a detrimental effect on the success of a business.
“It is hard out there, however, I say, we just need to get on with it and focus on what will help make us successful”