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Mixed reports blight Stress Awareness Day

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A report out today by the Institute of Directors (IoD) shows that 58% of its members have no experience of their staff suffering from stress; these findings conflict with research by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) which reports that three in five workers now complain of being stressed at work.

The IoD say that 76% of their respondents said that they were managing the problems of stress through increased training and support.

Richard Wilson, Head of Business Policy at the IoD commented:

“Excessive workloads, management style and organisational changes at work can result in stress at work. However, most IoD members are now taking stress seriously and are adopting sensible approaches to reduce pressure on employees. Also, the survey shows that 65% of employers do not think the problem is worsening.”

IoD members say they have implemented the following measures by way of combating stress:

  • 72% of businesses say they are now giving staff more responsibility
  • 70% are allowing staff to work from home
  • 63% are introducing more flexible working arrangements
  • 60% are giving their staff more manageable workloads
  • 59% are implementing a more effective appraisal process in their businesses, and 50% were changing the way that they communicate with their staff

The TUC, however, say that far from things improving little is being done to tackle the problem.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

“The fact that people are more stressed than ever before is bad news for workers and bad news for business. We know that long hours and dense workloads are stressful. 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.

“A stressed employee is not a productive employee. 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.”

Ben Willmott, CIPD Employee Relations Adviser supports the view that incidents of stress-related absence is on the increase.

“The CIPD’s annual survey into employee absence shows that a majority of employers have noticed an increase in stress-related absence during the past twelve months. Although it is worrying to see stress-related absence on the increase the survey suggests employers are taking action to address this.

“Employers should engage with their employers to tackle the problem. A large part of managing stress is about good people management, providing employees with well-defined jobs roles, challenging but realistic targets and the support, training and recognition to help them achieve these targets.”

National Stress Awareness Day is an annual event (now in its seventh successive year) held on the first Wednesday in November. The purpose of the day 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.

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