Nearly half of employees do nothing to tackle work-related stress

Encouraging exercise and activity is one way that organisations can help individuals build up their resilience

Almost half (48%) of workers in the UK do little or nothing to relieve work-related stress, a survey has found, often due to a lack of free time.

A poll of more than 1,000 employees by learning provider Obby found that not having enough time outside of work was the reason why 65% of people did not take part in some form of stress-relieving activity.

Workers in the professional services sector, which includes accounting and law, struggled the most to find time for stress relief (58%). This was closely followed by those in education (55%) and healthcare (53%).

Only 19% said their employer offered healthy ways to de-stress as part of their benefits package. A further 79% said they would welcome workplace-based activities to relieve stress if their employer offered them.

Tom Batting, co-founder of Obby, said it was in employers’ best interests to ensure that their staff took measures to manage their stress levels.

“It’s worrying how many workers claim they do not prioritise getting the stress relief that is so important for maintaining mental health.

“The irony is that this can actually become a vicious cycle – if we don’t make time for stress relief, this can lead to becoming more stressed or even burnout, both of which can reduce productivity further,” he said.

The UK was recently ranked in the bottom five in the world for mental wellbeing by Cigna, with more than a quarter of those suffering from stress stating work was the reason for their condition.

Batting suggested that employers communicate with their staff about how important stress relief is, or they should allow them to work flexible hours so that they can attend a stress-relieving activity – whether provided by the organisation or not.

“As well as reducing stress, this can positively impact on an employees’ focus, concentration and efficiency in the workplace,” he added.

Physical activity was the most popular method for stress relief – 44% of those who regularly took time to de-stress chose to exercise. Thirty-nine per cent turned to a hobby and 35% sought support from friends or family.

A 14-year study into the impact of work on health recently found that stressful jobs are more likely to lead to premature death in men with heart problems.

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