New research from the Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line has found that 85% of Australians experience severe stress at work, with half of full-timers feeling ‘seriously pressured’ most weeks of the year. Feeling stressed rolls over into 15% of Australians taking sick days at least once a month, resulting in 20 million days off per year. All up, this costs the economy $14.81 billion annually. The manifestations of workplace stress can be seen in 68% of workers having sleepless nights as a direct result of it.
“Stress is caused by a range of issues including long hours, large workloads, job insecurity or conflicts at work and the symptoms can severely impact on quality of life,” Frank Quinlan, CEO of the Mental Health Council of Australia, said.
The research also indicated that women are less likely to experience stress than men. Women are more likely to deal with stress by speaking to colleagues, partners and friends, whereas men gravitate towards telling their employer.
However, other research has indicated workplace issues are not the primary cause of stress for Australians.
Research from the Australian Psychological Society (APS) found that although the workplace was a prominent cause (34% reported it as a cause of stress), financial issues were found to be the primary stress catalyst (52%) for Australians.
Other areas include family issues (47%), personal health issues (43%), attempts to maintain a healthy lifestyle (41%) and concern over the health of others (38%).
Key HR takeaways
While workers may not be stressed due directly to workplace issues in all instances, their stress can affect their work. HR can help employees deal with their stress and handle their mental health by encouraging the following:
Identifying the warning signs that indicate an employee is getting stressed.
Identify situations that trigger stress and look at reducing their frequency or impact.
Monitor ‘self-talk’ that may be negative and contributing to unhappy feelings.
Eat well, exercise and undertake calming activities.
Invest time with people that they care about and who care about them.
Do not ‘bottle up’ feelings.