Stress is biggest problem facing UK organisations

The biggest problem facing UK workplaces is still stress, according to research, and the most common triggers for rising stress levels are excessive workloads, job cuts and rapid change.

The figures, released by the TUC in advance of the International Stress Awareness Day on 1 November, show six out of 10 union safety reps (61%) questioned found stress to be their most pressing concern at work.

Two years ago when the TUC last carried out its last survey, 58% of reps cited stress as the number one hazard at work, whereas in 2002 this figure was just 56%.

Stress seems to be more of an issue in larger workplaces. In organisations employing less than 50 staff, stress was the top concern for 58% of safety reps, but in organisations with more than 1,000 employees, the figure rises to 67%.

Workplace stress costs UK business an estimated £3.7bn a year, according to government figures.

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: “Stress is a preventable problem and UK employers simply aren’t doing enough to minimise its impact. People who suffer from stress aren’t wimps, and their symptoms can make them really ill.

“Stressed out employees are more likely to experience weight loss, high blood pressure, depression and even heart attacks. Bosses should be doing all they can to make sure their workplaces become as stress-free as possible.”

When asked what factors most likely to lead to problems with stress at work, three-quarters of the reps (76%) said that excessive workloads were to blame. Other issues cited include cuts in staffing levels (57%), rapid change (53%), long hours working (34%) and bullying (33%).

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