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30th November 2012

Absence: Part Three – Stress

The CIPD found that 40% of employers noted a rise in stress-related absence in their organisation in the past year, shifting it into first place as the largest cause of long-term absenteeism. Overall, the number of individuals admitted to hospital with stress, has increased by 7%, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre. Suffered by an average of 27% of workers, stress is, therefore, an area which needs to be addressed as a priority.

The main causes were listed as increased workloads, management style, non-work factors such as family issues, organisational change and restructuring, relationships at work and job insecurity.

Although lower in comparison to last year, 60% of organisations are taking steps to identify potential stressors and reduce the prevalence of stress within the workplace.

There are a number of popular methods to proactively identify stress including the use of staff surveys or occupational health involvement. Perhaps one of the least costly methods to adopt, would be to train middle managers to recognise the early indicators of stress.

The use of an Organisation Behaviour Audit (OBA) ( can assist with the identification of areas of the organisation where stress is highest and highlight the causes.

Workplace stress can be reduced using methods such as training staff to manage their symptoms, introducing flexible working options, assistance in improving their work-life balance and providing stress counselling.

Throughout any process, it is crucial to empathise with the sufferer and guarantee confidentiality.

Implementing these initiatives will help reduce employee stress levels and prevent the initial onset of stress. Absence figures should fall and individuals should feel happier in their job, improving their performance, morale and, ultimately, organisational commitment.

For more information, please contact Allison at [email protected].