Work Related Stress
Work related stress, depression and anxiety continue to represent a significant ill health condition in the workforce of Great Britain. Work related stress accounts for 37% of work related ill health and 45% of days lost, in 2015/16.
The occupations and industries reporting the highest rates of work related stress remain consistently in the health and public sectors of the economy. The reasons cited as causes of work related stress are also consistent over time with workload, lack of managerial support and organisational change as the primary causative factors.
The reporting of work related stress in the private sectors is not well measured, particularly at SME level where this may be due to a lack of dedicated resources responsible for collating such data.
Work related stress is defined as a harmful reaction that people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work.
Stress can hit anyone at any level of the business and recent research shows that work related stress is widespread and is not confined to particular sectors, jobs or industries.
Although stress in itself is not an illness, if it does become too excessive and prolonged then a number of problems can arise.
Well thought-out, organised and managed work is generally good for us but when insufficient attention to job design, work organisation and management has taken place, it can result in work related stress.
Work related stress develops because a person is unable to cope, or believes that they are unable to cope, with the demands being ‘placed upon them’.
Stress, including work related stress, can be a significant cause of illness and is known to be linked with high levels of sickness absence, staff turnover and other issues such as making more errors and in some cases a higher risk of workplace accidents.
Pressure v Stress
There is a difference between pressure and stress. Pressure can be positive and a motivating factor, and is often essential in a job. It can help us achieve our goals and perform better. Stress occurs when this pressure becomes excessive, or if the ‘personal stress limit’ of the person is exceeded. Stress is a natural reaction to too much pressure.
Balancing Demands and Pressure
A person experiences stress when they perceive that the demands of their work are greater than their ability to cope. Coping means balancing the demands and pressures placed on you (i.e. the job requirements) with your skills and knowledge (i.e. your capabilities).
For example, if you are given a tight deadline on a project that you feel you have neither the skills nor ability to do well, then you may begin to feel undue pressure which could result in work related stress.
Stress can also result from having too few demands, as people will become bored, feel undervalued and lack recognition. If they feel they have little or no say over the work they do or how they do it, this may cause them stress.
Stress affects people in different ways and what one person finds stressful can be normal to another. With each new situation a person will decide what the challenge is and whether they have the resources to cope.
If they decide they don’t have the resources to cope, they will begin to feel stressed.
How they appraise the situation will depend on various factors, including:
- their background and culture;
- their skills and experience;
- their personality;
- their personal circumstances;
- their individual characteristics;
- their health status;
- their ethnicity, gender, age or disability; and
- other demands both in and outside work.
Developing Coping Resources
Whilst employers have a duty of care to ensure that work related stress is effectively managed in the working environment, there is often very little that can be done to ‘compel’ employers to act.
In these cases it may be helpful to consider how you could develop a wider range of coping skills so that you experience less of the negative impacts of that pressure.
Yew Tree Court
Approved provider of Stress Management & Resilience training services to Sandwell & West Birmingham NHS Clinical Commissioning Group .
Copyright & Statistical Information
This website contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence.