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It’s National Stress Awareness Day!

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Thawareness day is organised for the fifth year running by the International Stress Management Association UK (ISMAUK), in association with AXA Insurance.

The theme for 2002 is “Managing Stress in an Ever-changing World”. The aim is to educate businesses and individuals about the positive steps they can take to reduce stress – and so achieve benefits including improved productivity and job satisfaction, and reduced sickness absence.

Stress is widely recognised as one of the most common causes of absence from work. The Government’s Health & Safety Executive estimates it results in 6.5 million lost working days per year, costing UK businesses £370 million. ISMA research in 2001 also found that more than 50% of workers suffer from stress at work – with long hours as a major factor.

New research suggests that one in two workers has experienced stress at work during the last 12 months and one in four needing time off work as a result. Too much work is the most common cause of stress with almost three quarters citing this as the main reason. Other catalysts include deadline pressures (62%), an unsupportive work environment (40%) and problems with maintaining an acceptable work/life balance (also 40%). The research also showed that over half of stressed workers feel that it is damaging their health; reducing their job satisfaction (65%); and lowering their productivity (41%).

Other major areas of life which stress at work affects included deterioration in social life (49%) and problems with relationships – with their partner (38%) and their children (23%). One in five suffering from stress consult professional help. The situation is likely to get worse, with two out of three people expecting it to remain unchanged or even deteriorate. One in four employees works more than five days a week, almost a third of these over 48 hours a week. Government guidelines clearly state that personnel should not work more than a 48 hour week.

Employers, however, continue to disregard the directive, with 54% of people who work more than five days a week doing so because it is required by their employer, and three out of five not being paid for the extra hours they work. Disturbingly, women are less likely to be paid then men, with 54% of men and 78% of women not being paid for overtime.

Findings

53% of people have experienced stress at work during the last 12 months.
57% of these say that stress has increased over the last 12 months.
52% of these feel that it is damaging their health.
72% of these people get stressed from too much work.
41% of these people say it is reducing their productivity.
20% of people experiencing problems due to stress at work have sought medical or other professional help.
63% of people experiencing problems due to stress at work expect the situation to remain unchanged or get worse in the coming year.
Yorkshire is the most stressful place to work in the UK.

Long hours culture
25% of the UK workforce are working more than five days a week.
32% of these employees work in an environment where they are expected to work more than the recommended maximum 48 hour week.
50% of these people say that it is damaging their health.
37% of these people say it is reducing their productivity.
54% of people who work more than 5 days a week do so because it is required by their employer.
61% of people who work more than the recommended maximum of 48 hours per week are not paid for the extra hours they work.
55% of people who work more than 48 hours per week do so every week.
75% of these people expect the situation to remain unchanged or even worsen over the next year.
54% of men and 78% of women are not paid for overtime.
People living in Yorkshire and Humberside are most likely to work the longest hours. Employees living in Scotland work the shortest average hours.


An HR Zone member writes…
In my organisation HR actually contributed to stress during redundancy consultation period.

I objected strongly to a move that would add another 30 miles to my daily round trip of 66, keep me in a car for 3 hours a day, and they would not consult with me. However, 2 colleagues who volunteered for the move were kept back at the main site.

Then, after I tried to claim travel allowance, the HR manager tried to get away with saying that as the new site was my permanent place of work he couldn’t understand why I expected the allowance. He refused to meet with me for a week, especially after I supplied eMail proof of his correspondence that travel would be paid and his broken promise to get back to me and others in 3 weeks (this was 3 months on). The before the meeting a letter came to all who were posted to say that a set fee equivalent to 3 months travel allowance would be paid. I responded to that by saying that I did not accept the new place as a permanent place of work as we had never had any consultation over it and in effect it would be a re-write of contract. More than a week has passed without a response.

IF HR don’t treat people properly what example is set for the Line Managers?

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