A study has revealed that 89% of employees in the UK have suffered from excessive stress in the workplace which has impacted on their mental health.
The Stress in the Workplace study, conducted by Dolan Contractor Group, sought to deepen the understanding of how stress affected freelance, contractor and permanent workers, gathering 1,400 responses from employees at 140 UK companies of all sizes.
The survey asked respondents about the causes of excessive stress at work, how they combat stress to maintain good mental health and what their employers do to support them through stress.
What is the greatest cause of excessive stress?
The greatest case of stress was long working hours, with 41% of respondents stating that they have been affected. Deadlines or client pressure was the next most common cause of stress (32%) followed by low pay and inability to build financial savings (29%).
16% of respondents would leave a company if they weren’t given support for excessive stress
Other causes of stress were inflexible working hours (28%), no chance of progression (16%), tax, red tape and government changes (14%), old technology and machinery (10%) and internet connection issues (9%). Only 11% said they had not been affected by excessive stress
Dealing with stress
It was revealed that 26% of respondents have taken paid time or holiday to combat excessive stress caused by work whilst 15% have taken unpaid time off, 6% have taken paid sick leave and 5% have sought help from a medical specialist. Perhaps more alarmingly is that 16% of respondents would leave a company if they weren’t given support for excessive stress. The same percentage answered that they would look to move industry.
Stress is prevalent in all areas of work and across all industries regardless of the way you work
The study also identified differences between the support available to permanent employees and that offered to contractor or freelance workers. For permanent workers, 26% would speak to their manager whereas contractors and freelancers were more likely to rely on their friends, family or spouses for support (26%).
In order to better support workers, the study provides insight on how companies can reduce stress within the workforce and how contractors and freelancers can reduce the stress levels they are experiencing.
Contractors and freelancers are rarely mentioned in the conversation for stress in the workplace and mental wellbeing
Of the findings, Lauren Monks, Group Operations Director at Dolan Contractor Group, commented: “The Stress in the Workplace study deepens our understanding of our contractors, freelancers and the self-employed. It outlines the key areas that cause stress and so gives us and employers insight to help reduce stress in the workplace. Stress is prevalent in all areas of work and across all industries regardless of the way you work – as a traditional employee or via your own limited company or umbrella employment, though contractors and freelancers are rarely mentioned in the conversation for stress in the workplace and mental wellbeing.”
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress
Adding further insight into the findings, Richard Holmes, Director of Wellbeing at Westfield Health, added: “Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Pressure at work is usually the main culprit and when budgets are tight and teams are small, people often find themselves with multiple roles and heavy workloads, piling on the stress. Policies like flexible or remote working can help employees balance work and home life, and things like turning off email servers outside of working hours helps ring fence valuable recovery time. Mental health first aid training can also help managers spot the signs or triggers and put preventions in place. Contractors or freelancers who don’t have the support of HR might need to adopt their own strategies such as setting working hours, turning off email alerts out of these hours and separating work and living space if working from home.”
To find more content surrounding stress in the workplace, click here.
Work in Mind is a content platform designed to give a voice to thinkers, businesses, journalists and regulatory bodies in the field of healthy buildings.