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Rachel Fielding

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News: National Stress Awareness Day – 1 in 3 take “stress day” since recession

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A third of the population has called in sick due to stress in their working life, with money, work and relationships the biggest causes of anxiety, according to research published to coincide with National Stress Awareness Day.

Nearly half of UK workers have felt more stressed since the onset of the financial crisis, finds the study from life insurance and pension provider Friends Life.

The three main causes of stress were found to be money (36%), work (25%) and relationships (16%). As the economic crisis rolls on it is unsurprising to see money and job security high up on this list. However, nearly half of respondents (48%) have felt more stress since the onset of the UK financial crisis in 2008 and are increasingly stressed about their job security (49%) as there appears to be little sign of an improving economic situation.

David Williams, director of group protection at Friends Life said: “There is still much work to be done to ensure that stress caused by the working environment is recognised as a serious condition that impacts on the wellbeing of the individual and the productivity of the company.”

Williams said the study gave intriguing insights into stress, particularly the revelation that two thirds (67%) of 18 to 24 year olds and over half (54%) of 25 to 34 year olds who have called in to work sick due to stress have done so in the past twelve months alone. “This is an extremely worrying number of young people who are starting their working life under strain and is something which needs to be monitored carefully,” Williams added.

Stress is being felt throughout the country, however, those in Northern Ireland feel the most stressed since the beginning of the UK’s financial troubles, with a huge 70% feeling more stressed than four years ago. In contrast, just two fifths (40%) of those living in the East Midlands have felt a rise in their stress levels.

Williams urged employers need to look out for signs of stress so measures can be taken early to help employees feeling under strain. “By taking these steps, it can have a positive impact for business productivity and employee well being,” he said.

Meanwhile companies are being urged to green up their work environment after studies showed that bringing plants into the workplace can help improve morale, reduce sickness absence and improve productivity.

Studies from Prism (Psychological Research into Identity and Space Management) a research-based consultancy based at the University of Exeter, found that allowing staff to engage with a workspace enriched with planting and artwork resulted in a boost in productivity by up to 17% with effects on wellbeing increasing by similar amounts.

 

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