Employers should do more to reduce stress

Oct 31 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Britainís employers should be doing more to cut stress levels and improve their employees' health, according to a survey carried out for Standard Life Healthcare.

Almost six out of ten of the 2,020 people questioned by Taylor Nelson Sofres said that bosses who take active steps to improve their staffís general wellbeing would boost productivity and reduce sick leave.

The findings come just weeks after another by the Health and Safety Executive and Personnel Today magazine survey suggested that stress increases staff absence by 1.5 million working days at a cost to British industry of around £1.24bn each year.

The Health and Safety Executive said employers have a duty to ensure that stress does not affect the health of their workers.

"All employers have a duty to make sure that their employees health is not put at risk from exposure to work related stress," said Chris Rowe, head of policy at the Health and Safety Executive.

"We welcome Standard Life Healthcare's survey which encourages employers to take stress seriously and ensure that the scale and impact are well known."

Stephen Bevan, director of research at The Work Foundation, also welcomed the findings.

"Employers already have a legal duty of care over the psychological well-being of their staff yet virtually none are carrying out risk analysis or putting preventative measures in place.

"This research highlights growing concern over mental ill-health in the workplace and its economic and human cost."

Mike Hall, chief executive of Standard Life Healthcare, said: "This survey shows that attitudes towards the way companies are engaged in the wellbeing of their staff are changing.

"People are now looking for their employers, not only to ensure that their healthcare is covered when they are sick but to intervene to prevent work related illnesses, such as stress.

"It's a win-win situation for employers as active management of staff stress and well-being can lead to an increase in company productivity and a reduction in illness related absence from work."