Stressed-WorkOver half (61%) of UK employees surveyed found that 2012 was more stressful than 2011, according to recent research from Canada Life Group, and people are worried about the prospects for 2013.

Indeed, although the outlook for 2013 is slightly more positive with 30% expecting it to be less stressful than the previous year, it may be an uphill battle for some, as 22% of workers who experienced problems with stress in 2012 were too afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.

Stress and the Workplace
Over half (61%) of UK employees surveyed stated 2012 was more stressful than 2011, with a quarter (26%) feeling overworked and having a poor work/life balance. Around half (48%) agreed that their worries and concerns impacted negatively on their working life, with one in ten (10%) having to take time off work as a result, while nearly a third (31%) experienced lower concentration levels and productivity.

Experiences with stress in 2012

I was more stressed/overworked in 2012 and had a poor work/life balance – 26%
Stress had a negative affect on my working life – 48%
I had to take time off as a result – 10%
I was too afraid/embarrassed to tell my employer – 22%

Of those who found their anxieties impacted on their work life in 2012, one in five (20%) said that their employer was understanding and 8% received help through an Employee Assistance Programme. However, 17% received no support from their employer despite informing them about their concerns.
While around a quarter (24%) made the resolution to reduce their stress levels in 2013, 28% of those who did admitted they thought this year would be more stressful , indicating many will need significant support to achieve their goals.

Financial stress
Financial concerns were an additional source of stress in 2012, with 38% struggling to make ends meet. Although a time for celebration, over a third (39%) worried about the mounting cost of Christmas 2012.

Many found themselves resorting to extra measures – over one in five (21%) relied on an agreed overdraft to fund their spending over the festive season, while 7% exceeded this limit. Over half (56%) of those who resorted to extra measures to fund Christmas would not consider doing so at any other time of the year, suggesting it is particularly difficult to stick to a budget during the festive season and early 2013 may bring struggles with bills.

Paul Avis, Marketing Director of Canada Life Group
“Despite the feel-good effect of the Olympics, over half of employees found 2012 to be more stressful than 2011. With a struggling economy and the strain of the festive season weighing heavy on people’s purses, financial issues were a considerable source of stress.

“It is worrying that problems within the workplace were also a major cause of anxiety last year. Employers should take note that this caused one in ten of the UK employees we surveyed to take time off work, while many saw a negative affect on their concentration levels and productivity. These statistics clearly demonstrate it is in an employer’s interest to take issues involving stress seriously.

“An employee should never feel too embarrassed to let their boss know the damaging affect stress is having on their life. Now is the time for employers to reassess how they support their workers in terms of stress, making sure that access to Employee Assistance Programmes is well publicised and without stigma.”