Employees are likely to feel "valued and heard" if their employer acknowledges the effect that workplace stress can have on their mental health, it has been suggested.

According to the International Stress Management Association (ISMA), employers need to accept that stress "is a reality" and take steps to tackle it sensitively among their workers.

A female spokesperson for the ISMA said stress can result in serious mental illness and long absences from work, which can have an extremely negative impact on business productivity and performance.

"If acknowledged early, all this can be avoided and staff will feel valued and heard," she remarked, adding: "Help comes in the firm of acknowledgement of hoe someone feels and discussing how their issues can be addressed."

The Stress Management Society claims that stress affects one in five working people and is the biggest cause of sickness absence in the UK, costing industry £3.7 billion a year.