Workplaces “major cause of anxiety and stress”, suggests study

Almost 10 million workers in the UK say they suffer from stress and anxiety as a result of working conditions, a major new report has revealed.

The research, published by life insurer Canada Life Group, looked at full and part-time employees aged 18 and over and the effects of a stressful workplace.

According to the results, three in 10 (30 per cent) workers say they regularly felt stressed or anxious as a direct result of a high-pressure working environment – significantly reducing productivity and wellbeing.

However, almost a quarter of those (23 per cent) believe that their boss or senior management team “did not care” about their health or wellbeing.

The researchers are now calling for employers to do more to protect the mental health of staff by offering advice, support and opportunities to work outside of a stressful environment.

For example, 77 per cent of employees say they would benefit from flexible working, while others say they could improve their physical and mental health by having time to work out or see their children more often.

Interestingly, the study also reveals that ‘cubicle style’ offices create the most stressful environments, compared to open plan and private office environments. Working from home, meanwhile, was the lease stressful environment.

Commenting on the findings, research author Paul Avis said it is “important” to know how staff work best.

“It is important to keep in mind that not everybody operates in the same way and being flexible with your staff can often mean creating a better working environment and increased engagement,” he said.

“For example, flexible working not only has the benefit of improving work-life balance but can also have a positive influence on overall employee health. People want to give their best, but we are all leading increasingly busy and “always-on” lives.

“Allowing employees to fit in time to exercise, drop off and collect their children from school or start/finish earlier or later can make an enormous difference to productivity. It also demonstrates that employers care about their staff and are prepared to move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to ensure employees work at their best, which can only be a good thing for companies.”

According to the latest statistics, mental health ‘sick days’ cost the UK economy around £1.4 billion per year.

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