Staff stress in higher and further education increases

The amount of workplace stress in UK universities and colleges  is more prevalent than five years ago, according to research.  


A survey by MarshallACM, found that 75% of respondents said stress has increased, yet only 25% of line managers know the legal implications of the Health & Safety Executive’s new guidance on stress, leaving gaping holes in supporting staff effectively – as well as plenty of room for legal backlash.


MarshallACM’s chief executive, David Marshall, said; “Universities and colleges may have measures in place to support staff when they actually become stressed, but few seem to have educated managers on looking for the signs of stress and understanding their duty of care to staff.


“If proactive measures are taken, they can counter the causes of stress rather than offering counselling within employee

assistance programmes afterwards.  It’s all about reducing the cause of the problem, rather than trying to stick a plaster on afterwards.  This is important from an employee perspective because once someone is affected by stress then it stays with them a long time.  From a employer’s perspective, stress levels can reduce productivity and in extreme cases can cause costly and discrediting legal claims.


Chief causes of stress were ‘factors intrinsic to job’ 17%, ‘culture and structure’ 21%, lack of career progress’ 10%, ‘relationships’ 14% and ‘work life balance’ 10%.  Individuals commented that intrinsic factors include an increase in student numbers and quality initiatives.  Some added extrinsic factors, such as funding issues, requirements from external bodies and poor planning or undue consideration when tasks are given.


Sixty-four percent of establishments have programmes in place to combat stress, but only 7% were in place for all staff.  Twenty-five percent of programmes in place, seen as the most relevant, were about policies.


Marshall ACM delivers a managed e-learning service to over 140 organisations across the public and private sector in the UK and Republic of Ireland. 

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