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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Stress is taking its toll on the nation’s workforce, study reveals

Nearly half of UK professionals are getting more stressed, according to research by flexible workplace providers Regus.

The study of more than 2,500 professionals across the country found that two-fifths (43 per cent) of employees say their stress levels have risen over the past year.

Workers pinpointed the top stress figures as their job (55 per cent), personal finances (48 per cent), customers (32 per cent) and management (26 per cent). Continuing instability in the economy, jobs and the rising cost of living are thought to have fuelled this growing pressure.

Back in April, research conducted for Regus showed that 65 per cent of professionals had taken on additional duties during the economic slowdown which have not subsequently been picked up by new staff, as employers strive to do more with less.

Dr Clare Kelliher, professor of work and organisation at the Cranfield School of Management, said:  "Levels of stress continue to increase across the country. Whilst some level of stress can sometimes be seen as beneficial, if employees suffer stress-related health problems, such as insomnia and exhaustion, they are likely to be less productive and eventually employers may find that they lose valuable workers.   Employers need to look for ways of taking excess pressure off employees."

When quizzed about possible solutions, two in three respondents (63 per cent) identified flexible working as a way for employers to reduce staff stress, such as granting workers a degree of choice in work location as well as hours.  This reflects growing recognition that multi-location working is widely beneficial, providing workers with a refreshing change of routine, the opportunity to work closer to home (and get home earlier) and also the financial advantage of not having to commute every day.

Steve Purdy, UK managing director at Regus, said: "Without a doubt, stressed-out workers are unhappy and unhealthy workers too, so local businesses that want to help their staff lead more rewarding lives cannot fail to analyse and tackle levels of stress within their organisation. The heavy toll of stress falls not only on workers, but also on businesses  as they that find their staff are unable to perform as required, need more sick leave and are less efficient. 

"Confirming previous Regus research showing that 58 per cent of workers feel healthier directly as a result of flexible working, respondents clearly identify flexible working as one possible solution to their high stress levels.  In addition to this they also report flexibility is more family friendly, helping improve their overall work-life balance and wellbeing. Add to this that flexible working is believed to improve productivity and to cost less than traditional office working and the case for helping employees to de-stress by increasing flexibility becomes substantial."


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