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Workplace Stress

Mental health continues to represent one of the greatest challenges to business, with stress in particular, an issue at all levels of company hierarchy. The added pressure of having to work long hours is making matters worse.

According to a Chartered Management Institute (CMI) study, reported on the Employee Benefits website, more than half of managers responding said that working hours were having a negative impact on their levels of stress.

The survey asked more than 1,500 people about their working lives and while there were some positive responses – more than three-quarters of people were proud to work for their employer, for example – the heavy toll of long working days was clear. Only 6% of people who worked no overtime said they were often stressed, compared with 20% of those who work three extra hours a day.

It’s well documented that stress can have physical manifestations, and this was evident in the study: 57% of people said they suffered from headaches and constant irritability because of their workload.

And while technology should be making our lives easier, the flipside is a constant channel of contact with work. As many as 61% said that technology made it hard to switch off from work, while 20% said they checked email all the time outside working hours and more than half said they did so frequently.

The challenges involved in dealing with mental health are not restricted to the UK, of course. Analysis of three years’ worth of Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) data, carried out by Workplace Options, showed that the number of employees reporting serious mental and emotional issues has been rising across the world.

The data covered around 100,000 employees in Asia, Europe, Africa, North and South America and was used to evaluate global trends in the use of EAP between 2012 and 2014.

Workplace Options, a leading provider of integrated employee well-being services, recently examined a set of data encompassing a relatively stable population of more than 100,000 employees across Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, and South America to evaluate global trends in the use of its Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP). The data represented all EAP enquiries made by this group from 2012-2014.

The study showed that instances of employee stress, anxiety and depression had all risen significantly over that period. While the number of cases dealing with personal emotional health issues remained relatively constant across all three years, instances of employee stress, anxiety, and depression each rose at an alarming rate.

The number of cases dealing with employee depression rose by 58%, those dealing with employee stress by 28% and those dealing with anxiety increase by 74%.

Dean Debnam, CEO of Workplace Options, said: “Serious mental health issues can have a devastating effect on organisations around the world. What this analysis means for businesses is that if your employees’ emotional well-being wasn’t already on the top of your list of priorities, it needs to be.”

If you would like to speak to IHC about the ways you can manage stress and anxiety in your organisation, call your IHC contact or email Paul proberts@ihc.co.uk to start a conversation.

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