Increased workloads, longer hours and pay freezes to blame, according to Croner survey.

Nearly half (48%) of the adult workers surveyed by Croner are more or much more stressed than 12 months ago.

The survey of over 1,200 adult workers carried out by YouGov reveals that higher unpaid workloads (57%) and performance pressures (45%) are being held to blame for this big rise in stress levels amongst those who are more stressed in their work than 12 months ago. The need to work longer hours (34%) and the imposition of pay freezes (33%) are also significant factors revealed in the research by Croner , the UK expert in workplace information, software and services, part of Wolters Kluwer.

Amy Paxton, a senior employment consultant at Croner says: “The fact that 48% of the workers we surveyed say they are more stressed as a result of work, than a year ago should be a real wake-up call for employers. At a time when many industries are under such pressure to keep their heads above water, or even survive, employers cannot afford to have such high levels of stress and the associated difficulties it can cause in their organisations.

From the answers we received in the survey it’s clear that work related stress is on the increase among the UK workforce. Perhaps this is not too surprising but it’s really important then that employers are absolutely clear about the effect the performance of their organisation is having on their workforce.

“Lack of communication or lack of transparency often creates an absence of trust and can undermine the relationship between managers and employees. This sets the scene for employee insecurity and dissatisfaction, too often resulting in higher stress levels.”

Stress clearly affects people in different ways: the Croner survey asked respondents how they cope with it. Eating and drinking more alcohol and becoming less friendly towards family, friends and colleagues are all cited as ways of overcoming their worries.

Amy Paxton says: “There is a legal requirement for all employers to provide a safe and healthy working environment for staff. It is important to identify the sources of stress and if possible solutions should be aimed at eliminating or at least reducing the impact of these sources. In most situations, it is not always possible to identify the causes, in which case some general principles might be useful.

“Stress can be reduced by improving working conditions, restructuring jobs and allowing more flexible working arrangements. A supportive work ethos and a climate in which staff are encouraged to openly discuss their concerns can also help.

“Moreover There is evidence to suggest that a range of stress management programmes can have a beneficial impact on employees, even those who have not shown any symptoms.”

Croner has launched an employee assistance programme service for small and medium sized organisations in association with Right Management, as part of its Croner Simplify service. A key feature of the EAP is a ‘day one’ intervention programme, which aims to help employees suffering from stress-related issues to return to work, or stay in work.