Stress can be defined as our body’s response to pressures from a situation or life event. Stress can often result from experiencing something new or unexpected, or an event which you feel you have little control over or something that threatens your feeling of self.
Research and reports on illnesses relating to workplace stress have found that stress, anxiety or depression account for around 40% of all staff absences, which has cost an estimated £1 billion every year to the UK economy.
Stress has been widely discussed in the last couple of years especially as our lives have become busier. and as new technologies are introduced into workplaces, one of the most cited reasons for workplace strain was overwork.
This is not surprising as many people are finding that their job tasks have increased and that they can find themselves working from home, for example, answering emails and researching online using personal devices.
Research has shown that 6 in ten employees experience stress within their job roles and have suffered work-related stress, with some of the most stressful job functions being identified as sales jobs and various jobs within the finance sector.
Reluctance to Own up About Stress
Many people who have taken days off work due to experiencing stress have given another reason to their employers for their absence, such as having the flu, having a stomach upset or having measles. This might suggest that employers do not accept stress as a reasonable reason for taking time off work or/and that employees and employers do not perceive stress as a real illness.
However, the health impacts of stress on employees is well documented and shows significant negative physical and psychological health effects on individuals and has demonstrated a significant financial cost to many businesses and economies.
Short-term Health Effects of Stress
Increased stress within the workplace, from feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope with pressures, can cause an employee to have negative physical and mental health effects.
Some of the physical effects of stress include the following:
- Elevated blood pressure.
- Problems sleeping.
- Heart problems and
- Skin conditions.
Some of the psychological effects of stress include anxiety, depression and mental health problems..
People who experience short-term stress may find that they suffer from digestive problems and stomach aches, have poor or interrupted sleep patterns are off sick more often from work and are more likely to stay absent from their workplaces.
Long-term Health Effects of Stress
Long-term exposure to stress is found to exacerbate or cause many serious health problems some of these are as follows:
- Mental health problems like anxiety, depression and personality disorders.
- Cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure, heart disease, abnormal heart rhythms, strokes and heart attacks.
- Obesity and eating disorders.
- Skin and hair problems.
- Menstrual problems.
- Gastrointestinal problems.
The negative impacts of stress on employees suggests that this is a health concern that employers should seek to address, as the effects can be harmful for employees and for the employers business. Of course, knowing where to start with tackling work-related stress can be challenging for employers. However, having meetings to raise awareness and having an open and understanding workplace culture could be a good start.
Having policies and implementing appropriate measures to reduce and manage stress could result in a more motivated workforce, increased productivity, reduced mistakes and reduced levels of absence as a result of stress. It could also improve the employers reputation and demonstrate that they care for the health and wellbeing of their employees.
I hope you all enjoyed this article.
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Thanking you kindly
Ian Morrison, InstituteofCounselling