Research from MetLife UK has found workplace stress is on the rise and the biggest drivers of stress are colleagues. The business’ study found employees say the major causes of tension at work are ongoing understaffing with underperforming colleagues adding to the pressure. In fact, more than half (52 per cent) of employees questioned said being understaffed is creating stress at their workplace while the same number blame colleagues not doing their jobs properly. Around two out of five (40 per cent) say recruiting inexperienced staff contributes to stress.
Personal financial worries are adding to the stress mix with one in three (30 per cent) employees admitting they struggle to stay on top of their finances while remaining fully committed at work highlighting the need for employers to address the issue of financial wellness in the workplace.
The MetLife UK study found stress in the workplace is rising – 57 per cent of employees questioned say their job is more stressful than a year ago and just 22 per cent say their job is not stressful. When MetLife UK last carried out the research in 2014 around 31 per cent said their job was not stressful and less than half (48 per cent) said their job had become more stressful in the past year.
There are grounds for optimism with signs that senior management is recognising the need to address the issue – the numbers of employees blaming pressure from their line manager for creating stress has slipped to 36 per cent from 39 per cent in 2014 while the numbers blaming stress on pressure to achieve performance targets has dropped to 38 per cent from 45 per cent.
Employers are making efforts to provide more support for staff on combating stress – around 64 per cent of employees said their organisation offered some form of help in the workplace compared to 51 per cent when the research was previously conducted.
“Employees are telling us that a major cause of stress at work is unfortunately the people they work with,” said Adrian Matthews, employee benefits director, MetLife UK. “Either there aren’t enough of them, or the ones that are there are failing to deliver and making it harder for others.
“Add financial wellbeing to the mix and it is clear workplace stress is a growing issue. It’s an issue that employers need to address and the numbers suffering from it demonstrate that taking action will produce measurable results relatively quickly and without major investment.
“Employees need frameworks in place to support motivation and engagement at work as well as good overall physical and mental health and wellbeing. Team leaders and managers play an important role and it is encouraging that the research shows signs of change but clearly a lot more needs to be done,” he says. “Group Risk products such as Group Life and Group Income Protection have a role to play in providing some of the support mechanisms for financial, mental and physical wellbeing.”