Is your job making you ill? Stress at work is on the rise!

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Do you know how many people in the United Kingdom go to work?

Twenty seven million of us every day.

People that go to work,  spend more time doing a job, than doing anything else in their life  and that includes, spending time with their partner,  children,  friends or enjoying  hobbies.  Because we spend so much time at work, it is vitally important that our work life is happy, pleasurable and enjoyable.

Causes of work-related stress

  • up to 5 million people in the UK feel ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressed by their work/job
  • stress-related illness is responsible for the loss of 6.5 million working days each year in the Unites kingdom
  • Work related stress costs society about £3.7 billion every year
  • long hours spent in the work place causes stress and anxiety
  • Not knowing about job security, particularly in relation to terms of employment and stress levels
  • work relationships with colleagues and managers
  • Inadequate resources and communication systems

Work-related stressors are varied and inevitable in any work situation.  It is very important to understand what they are and how to manage them, to prevent becoming a victim:-

Work Overload

This is the extent to which individuals feel that the demands of their workload and the associated time pressures are a source of pressure, for example:

  • Unrealistic deadlines and expectations, often as a result of super achievement by the most talented.  Those that exceed at work, make it impossible for everyone else to reach their standard
  • technology overload
  • unmanageable workloads
  • under recruitment of staff for work already timetabled

Control

The experience of pressure is strongly linked to perceptions of control.   Lack of inclusion and consultation in the way in which work is organized and performed can be a potential source of pressure, for example:

  • lack of control over aspects of the job
  • lack of involvement in decision making
  • account not taken of staff ideas/suggestions about the job
  • lack of influence over performance targets
  • lack of time to undertake the roles and the job

Work relationships

Many jobs demand regular contact with other people at work. Poor or unsupportive relationships with colleagues and/or supervisors can be a potential source of pressure.   In addition, pressure can occur if individuals feel isolated or unfairly treated.  It is vitally important that you have a feeling of support and someone to talk to, if you are feeling stressed and pressurised at work.

Poor work relationships can be a result of:

  • aggressive management style
  • lack of support from others
  • isolation at work
  • aversive behaviour, e.g. bullying and harassment
  • lack of understanding and leadership
  • manager always  finding fault in your work
  • others not pulling their weight and going home early or arriving late
  • others take credit for personal achievements and do not recognise the joint effort
  • poor relationships with colleagues

Job security

This is the extent to which lack of job security and job changes are a source of pressure, for example:

  • job insecurity
  • lack of job permanence, e.g. temporary/fixed term contracts
  • future job change
  • fear of skill redundancy

Work-life balance

The demands of work have the potential to spill over and affect personal and home life and so put a strain on relationships outside work, for example:

long hours: being expected to or having to work additional hours at home to the detriment of personal, partner and family relationships

  • over-demanding and inflexible work schedules
  • unsocial hours
  • excessive travel time
  • work interfering with home/personal life

Resources and communication

To perform a job effectively, individuals need to feel that they have appropriate training, equipment and resources. They also need to feel that they are adequately informed and that they are valued. Stress may result from lack of:

  • information about what is going on in the organisation
  • feedback on performance
  • adequate training to do the job
  • equipment/resources to do the job

Pay and benefits

The financial rewards associated with a job are important in terms of lifestyle. They are also often perceived to be an indication of an individual’s worth and value to the organisation.   Although financial reward may not be a prime motivator, it could become a factor if there are other negative aspects of the job.

Aspects of the job

These are potential sources of stress that relate to the fundamental nature of the job itself.     Factors such as the physical working conditions, type of tasks and the amount of satisfaction derived from the job.

  • job is unlikely to change in the next 5–10 years
  • poor physical working conditions
  • fear of physical violence
  • work performance closely monitored
  • organisation changes for change’s sake
  • dull and repetitive work
  • dealing with difficult customers/clients
  • lack of enjoyment of job

Managing work related stress is very important, not only for emotional well- being but also for personal and home life health. Employers have a huge responsibility to their staff to identify staff who are struggling at work and put systems in place to provide Health Screening, to highlight silent killers.  These include high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol amongst a few.

Our staff are our most vital resource and it is essential that workplace health is not seen as a separate add-on but as an integral part to enabling businesses to meet the challenges they face.  Prevention of ill health at work is very important for business owners.  Therefore, public health is everyone’s responsibility.  Individuals must, of course, take responsibility for their own health, however, all employers must realise that the health of their staff has a direct impact on the health of their bottom line.

Solihull Health Check Clinic can perform all of your employees Occupational Health needs, so call us on 0121 745 7400 if you want to be pro-active about keeping your staff healthy.  Prevention is better than cure.