Stress Awareness Month prompts employers to review stress management processes, as increased living costs threaten to compound the issue
The start of April also marks the beginning of Stress Awareness Month, an event designed to ‘increase public awareness about both the causes and cures of the modern stress epidemic’.
The reality of stress is that it impacts people in all walks of life and is not just reserved for those working in high-pressure occupations and industries. In fact, recent data shows that a staggering 79% of employed British adults commonly experience workplace stress – 20% higher than a year earlier.
Unfortunately, any existing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression are likely to have been compounded in recent weeks, as energy price hikes and an increase to the cost of living heap further pressure on individuals, particularly if they are caring for others too.
Therefore, the arrival of Stress Awareness Month should prompt businesses across all sectors to familiarise themselves the signs and symptoms of stress, so they can step in and provide the necessary support to workers that need it.
Tina Chander, Head of Employment Law at Wright Hassall, commented: “Just as it looked like the worst of the pandemic was behind us, and that people could finally enjoy a period of financial stability, news of rising energy prices, petrol prices and the cost of living increases has once again created an air of uncertainty amongst the general population.
“With 39% of UK adults admitting that money concerns were one of the main contributors to stress, many individuals will unfortunately be feeling the strain in light of recent events, and it is likely that this stress will be carried into the workplace, which can have a negative impact on morale and productivity.
“There may even be some individuals that feel they need an enhanced salary or pay rise to cover the additional costs, and this may exacerbate feelings of stress or anxiety, especially if a business is not in a position to offer this level of support to all of its employees.
“For this reason, employers should strive to use Stress Awareness Month as motivation to review their existing stress management policies, giving themselves the knowledge and understanding needed to identify cases early, so that steps can be taken to improve the situation.
“If you are in a position of leadership or actively managing a team, then it is important that you familiarise yourself with the tell-tale signs of workplace stress, whether it be increased sickness absence, reduced productivity or disciplinary issues.
“It is not just a select group of industries that are effected either, as the data shows that businesses across all sectors are impacted by the adverse effects of workplace stress.”
Sectors feeling the strain
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the high-pressured nature of the job and the scrutiny it receives from the media and public alike, Local and National Government is statistically the most stressful sector to work in, with 92% of individuals having experienced feelings of stress within their careers.
Telecoms is the second most stressful sector with 88% of respondents having felt stressed with work, closely followed by Media & Marketing at 85%. That being said, all of the industries are extremely close together in terms of their exposure to stress, highlighting how widespread the issue actually is.
In fact, some industries recorded the exact same score, as seen with Education and Real Estate (83%), Travel and Legal & Professional Services (79%), Manufacturing, Transport and Architecture, Engineering & Building (75%), and Arts & Culture and IT & Technology (74%).
Just by looking at this data, it is clear that work-related stress is prevalent in businesses across all sectors, impacting everyone, from senior leaders to more junior employees. So, how can businesses spot the signs early on?