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80% of senior executives say workplace is more stressful than five years ago

Russam questioned its database of senior executives and 60% of respondents said their employers expect them to answer emails outside of work hours and a fifth of respondents said that “switching off from work at home” is their biggest challenge in terms of looking after their health.

Other contributors of stress included more demanding financial targets, the pressure to be on call 24/7 and email which & lsquo;makes things relentless.’

At the same time, more than 80% of senior executives said their company has no procedures in place for recognising stress in the workplace, although 95% said they would recognise if one of their colleagues were stressed.

Fewer than 15% of companies offer staff briefings about stress in the workplace or stress counselling or mentoring programmes.

For those organisations that are offering some kind of stress management techniques the most common (31%) is informal appraisals where stress might be mentioned.

Failing to look after the health and wellbeing of employees has been shown to contribute to stress. Stress is the top reason for long-term sick leave according to the Health and Safety Executive, with most businesses reporting a rise in staff stress levels.

The Health and Safety Executive report that 11.3 million working days were lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2013/14, an average of 23 days per case and the Centre for Economics and Business Research has suggested the cost of work related stress to the economy is &pound6.5 bn.

Ian Joseph, managing director, Russam GMS commented, “A 24/7 working culture and increased use of mobile technology has made it difficult for people to switch off and is contributing to stress in the workplace. Stress is one of the leading causes of health problems and absence in the workplace so it’s surprising that organisations are doing so little to recognise it or offer help to deal with it. Senior executives today are expected not only to have business skills, drive and ambition, they also need to be fit and resilient in order to cope with today’s demanding economic environment, companies that are failing to support and encourage their staff to be healthier and tackle stress are storing up problems for the future.”

70% of respondents said a company would be a more attractive employer if they offered more health benefits, and almost a quarter said they would prefer more health and well-being benefits to a pay rise.

However, many of Britain’s workplaces are failing to offer even basic health benefits with a quarter of companies offering no benefits at all. Almost two thirds (65%) don’t encourage employees to take regular breaks from their desks.

The top health benefits people would like are measures to encourage cycling, running or walking to work, mindfulness sessions, fitness classes at work, meditation and yoga sessions, plus more health advice available on the intranet.

Of those that do, the top four benefits are private health insurance, cycle to work schemes, encouraging lunch breaks and subsidised gym membership.

Ian Joseph adds, “Putting benefits in place to help employees be healthier and less stressed is crucial. These don’t have to be complicated or expensive. Initiatives such as having fruit in meetings, encouraging people to take regular breaks from their desk and allowing them time to visit the gym can contribute to people’s good health and support their well-being.

“If organisations are going to be fit for the future, leaders need to recognise the issue of stress and do something about it. Setting expectations about the use of mobiles and unplugging from emails during holidays is something senior executives should be doing as matter of course and leading by example.”


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