Three in five employees have stated that their mental health has declined this year as a result of workplace stress.

Despite UK employers spending millions on wellness initiatives every year – increasing their spend by 20 percent since the pandemic – 55 percent of professionals still think that their employer is not doing enough to combat stress in the workplace.

Professionals at risk

According to a poll of 2,000 by recruitment firm Robert Walters, 60 percent of professionals stated they have suffered from some form of workplace-related stress, which has been onset in 2023.

When asked how often they feel this way, a third stated ‘very often’ (33%), with a further 27 percent stating ‘somewhat often’, and 31 percent identified it as happening ‘sometimes.’ – Just 9 percent stated that they had not experienced any form of ‘reoccurring stress*’ at work this year. *stress-symptoms experienced more than 3 times for 7+ days at a time.

The causes

When asked about what causes workplace stress, concerns over job stability were the most common trigger (45%). Followed by more pressure from management (23%), lack of a pay rise (19%) and taking on a heftier workload this year (13%).

Whose responsibility, is it?

When asked whose responsibility it was to manage workplace stress – 45 percent of professionals said it was down to HR and senior leaders, followed by line managers (34%) – with only a fraction (18%) thinking it was down to the individual.

However, less than 20 percent of professionals feel employers are doing enough, a further 27 percent feel some efforts have been made, but they are lacking – whilst the majority (55%) state that employers simply are not doing enough.

Chris Poole, Managing Director of Robert Walters, says:

“UK Employers spend an estimated £100-200 per employee on wellness initiatives & benefits every year – but our survey indicates they may only be applying a band-aid.

“Employers must strike the balance between not breaking the banks or piling pressure onto managers to solve workplace stress but still being proactive and listening to the needs of their employees.”

Causes and effects

Long work hours, heavy workloads, tight deadlines, unclear job expectations, job insecurity, and conflicts with colleagues or supervisors are all factors which contribute towards workplace stress.

If not addressed, workplace stress can snowball into higher turnover rates, levels of employee burnout, absenteeism and lower levels of productivity.

Indeed, 51 percent of professionals identified their company’s output as high – with almost a quarter noting it was of a low quality.

Chris comments:

“Workplace stress is something everyone in a business has a hand in creating – however it is down to senior leaders & HR to set the tone for how it is handled.

“Simple interventions such as making sure workloads are manageable, setting realistic deadlines and making sure employees have access to support, safe spaces and relevant resources – can all help to alleviate pressure in the workplace as well as professionals’ day-to-day work life.”





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.