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Growing stress levels worry employers

29 November 2000 - A survey of 565 HR specialists (a 10% response rate from questionnaires sent out to a random selection of 5,600 by the Industrial Society) appears to show evidence of growing concern about worker stress amongst UK employers. The survey found that 74% of respondents consider the incidence of workplace stress to be a faster growing health problem than back pain, smoking and drug or alcohol abuse.

Most employers treat worker health as a serious matter with 77% having workplace health policies. But employers still seem tardy in dealing with the issue of stress. Just one third actively monitor stress in the workplace and only 29% have a stress policy. Almost two thirds (63%) of employers take no action to provide stress awareness coaching for their staff. A mere 8% provide managers with training on health promotion issues.

According to Pat McGuinness of The Industrial Society: "Employers are aware of stress and its consequences, but are still struggling to find ways of identifying and dealing with it. Having open and honest lines of communication where employees feel that they can freely acknowledge that they are under stress without fear of retribution can go some way to alleviating the problem."

45% of employers acknowledged that compliance with legislation was the main reason for promoting well being but 39% also claim that employee health promotion is a significant part of holistic people management.

Businesses surveyed tend to deal with health promotion by means of written advice and health screening (both 61%). 53% provide access to a trained counsellor (53%); 46% offer catering facilities with healthy eating alternatives; and 31% now have employee assistance programmes (EAPs). More exotically 5% offer aromatherapy and 5% reflexology.


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