Work stress at record levels - see our new resources
Seven in ten reps report problem
Findings published by the TUC on 10 October indicate stress was at the top of the list of health and safety concerns in this year’s survey, with 7 in 10 reps (70 per cent) citing it as a problem – up 3 per cent since the last survey in 2014 when 67 per cent did so, and a higher proportion than in any previous TUC study. Recent discussions in branch reps meetings reveal a similar problem.
Stress is one of the main causes of mental health problems, in particular anxiety and depression. It adds the problem is worse in the cuts-ravaged public sector, with central government, education and health services worst affected. The latest survey found a sharp rise in reported stress in medium-sized companies. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The message from the shopfloor is clear, stress is becoming a bigger and bigger problem. Pressures of long working hours and low job security are being felt in workplaces across the UK.” She added: “It’s in no-one’s interests to have overstretched workforces. People who experience high anxiety are less productive and are more likely to take time off. Stress is preventable if staff have reasonable workloads, supportive managers and a workplace free from violence, bullying and harassment.”
Unrealistic workloads are often an underlying reason for stress at work and research backs up what our reps report – overwork is a major problem in the housing sector; 72% of housing workers reported unmanageable workloads in a recent survey.
TUC guidance on stress prevention notes that it is a problem that can affect anyone, and advises affected workers to talk to someone like a union rep, a friend, a GP or a support service. It adds stress-related illnesses caused by work are preventable. Employers have a legal responsibility to reduce or remove anything at work that could make you ill – and that includes workplace stress, the TUC says.
See the new branch resource here