Stress among staff continues to rise

The number of workers suffering from stress has increased this year, according to a survey released today by the TUC.

Three in five workers (58 per cent) now complain of being stressed at work, an increase of 2 per cent from 2002.

The main reasons cited for stress are increased workloads, change at work, staff cuts, long hours and bullying.

The fifth biennial TUC survey of safety reps reveals that stress levels vary in workplaces of different sizes and between the public and private sector. The bigger the workforce, the greater the levels of stress.

Overall, 58 per cent of workers complained of stress at work. However, that figure rose to 63 per cent in businesses with more than 1,000 employees.

Stress at work costs the UK economy £7bn each year through sick pay, lost production and NHS costs, and accounts for 6.5 million lost working days.

Stress is greater in the public sector – nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of public sector workers complained of stress at work, compared to less than half (48 per cent) in the private sector.

The survey of 4,521 safety reps offers little evidence that anything is being done to tackle the main causes of stress at work. The top five causes of stress – workloads, change, cuts in staff, long hours and bullying – are as big a problem in 2004 as they were in the previous survey from 2002.

TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, said the findings were bad news for workers and for business.

“We know that workers want a better work-life balance, yet some employers insist on trying to squeeze every last drop of sweat out of their workforce,” he said.

“Things like a failure to replace staff are bad for workers, their families and the employers’ productivity. Unless bosses start to seriously tackle stress and the causes of stress, then they will continue to lose many days every year to workers off sick and many hours of productivity from their demoralised workforce.”

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