04 November 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
One in every eight company employees in the UK has taken time off work for stress in the last year, according to research.
Payroll and accountancy firm Dolan Contractor Group gathered responses from employees of 140 companies across the UK for its 'Stress in the Workplace' study.
Respondents were asked about the causes of what was deemed 'excessive workplace stress', how they combat stress to maintain good mental health and what their employers do to support them through stress.
- 41 per cent say long working hours have affected them;
- 32 per cent cite deadlines or client pressure as cause for stress; and
- 29 per cent are affected low pay and inability to build financial savings.
The study also identified differences in how stress is experienced between genders, and between employees of SMEs or large companies. Also revealed were crucial differences between the support available to permanent employees compared with employees hired on a contractor or freelance basis.
When asked how they would deal with stress, 6 per cent of permanent employee respondents stated that they would not seek help if they were suffering from excessive stress, opting to 'hope it gets better'. This figure rose to 17 per cent of contractors and freelancers surveyed.
There were clear differences between SMEs and large companies when employees attributed sources of stress. Just under half of employees in SMEs (47 per cent) stated that low pay, the inability to build savings and no chance of progression were stress points.
When respondents were asked how they'd tackle stress, 30 per cent of those at large companies stated they would speak to their manager. The amount who would seek help from their manager reduced to 12 per cent of workers at SMEs. It's possible that small businesses need to work harder to provide anonymity or an environment that workers feel comfortable to confide in senior staff members.
The majority of employees from large companies stated that long working hours (40 per cent) caused them the most stress, followed by overwork and management pressure (36 per cent).
Other findings from the study showed:
Female contractor workers are less likely to suffer from excessive stress due to long working hours when compared to female permanent workers. It is still predominantly women who take time off work, as the main carers for children within a family. They have to set their working hours around childcare, made possible by freelancing and contracting.
Contractors and freelancers were found to rely more heavily on their friends and families for support, with 26 per cent stating this was their method to combat excessive stress. Furthermore, 30 per cent of contractor and freelancer workers have taken leave from work to combat excessive stress.
See the full report.