Managers who have gaps in their skills can end up overloading their colleagues with work, an expert has warned.

According to Professor Cary Cooper from the Lancaster University Management School, thanks to poor management, stress-related illnesses are now the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK.

He said: "If you think about the negative consequences of having underperforming managers, what ends up happening is people get overloaded, they get more stressed, have more burnout, become less productive and deliver less to the bottom line."

The expert went on to state that stress has surpassed muscular skeletal diseases as the leading cause of sickness absence in Britain.

In related news, figures produced recently by the Confederation of British Industry and AXA suggested that a total of £13.2 billion was lost by UK firms during 2007 as a result of workers taking time off.