UK plc pays the price as firms lose 1.5m days a year to stressOn 1 Dec 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. More than 1.5 million working days are lost to stress every year, costing UKemployers £1.24bn, a study by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) andPersonnel Today magazine has concluded. The research by Occupational Health’s sister magazine also found that morethan half of UK organisations are reporting an increase in workplace stress. The Stress in the UK Workplace study of 700 senior HR practitioners suggestedthat stress-related illness now accounted for some 11 per cent of all sicknessabsence, while nearly half the employers polled believed the culture in theirbusinesses was a prime cause of stress. In a separate study of 2,000 workers by pollster BMRB, half felt underpressure to work long hours, with 42 per cent worrying about their job afterhours. A total of 40 per cent felt unable to report concerns over excessivepressure, 19 per cent dreaded going into work, a quarter admitted to worries overwork affecting their sleep and a third said they felt overwhelmed by theirworkload. Intriguingly, the public sector appeared to have a much firmer grasp on themanagement of workplace stress, with 75 per cent of firms providing guidance,compared with just 48 per cent of private sector organisations. With the problem of workplace stress showing no sign of disappearing, theHSE has taken a major step forward in its plans to tackle the issue, which willinclude next year’s launch of management standards. It has developed a practical guidance pack for employers and employees todevelop solutions. The guidance, Real solutions, real people – a managers’ guide to tacklingwork-related stress, has examples of practical measures that, said the HSE,could provide a starting point for the workforce to agree how to tackle thefindings of a stress risk assessment. Bill Callaghan, chairman of the Health and Safety Commission, said:”Real solutions, real people provides a tool to help managers and staffdevelop solutions to tackle work-related stress that are specifically relevantto their organisation. It then encourages them to tailor their energy to theparticular needs identified by risk assessment.” Progress is being made on the management standards, too. The standards arecurrently being piloted by 25 organisations and, according to the HSE, thatprocess is now being evaluated. The next step will be to revise and develop the standards before they areput to further public consultation next spring. The publication is available from the HSE, tel 01787 881165, or online at www.hsebooks.co.ukStress: just an excuse for time off work?Most HR professionals believe employees use stress as an excuse to take timeoff work.According to the joint research by Personnel Today magazine andthe HSE, the majority of HR professionals had serious reservations about thenumber of genuine sick days attributed to stress.A total of 51 per cent of employers believed that just half ofall days lost to stress-related sickness absence were genuine. And 68 per centwere afraid to raise its profile in case it encouraged greater reporting ofstress-related absence.