Written by Kayleigh Frost, Head of Clinical Support at Health Assured 

A 2021 poll showed that 54% of employees reported feeling “stressed” or “extremely stressed” at work.

Long-term—or chronic—stress can lead to physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion, also known as burnout, and this can lead to serious health implications later down the line.

Clearly work-life can be a trigger of stress across the country, so it is important that signs are recognised, acknowledged, and understood by both employers and employees to stop issues developing to unmanageable levels.

Health Assured, the UK and Ireland’s largest employee assistance programme (EAP) provider, reviewed the data from the hundreds of thousands of calls they received over the past three months to identify the top 5 workplace stresses faced by employees.

  1. Job role

The top workplace stressor relates to job role. Many employees in this calling category seek clarity about their role. Lack of objectives, no future direction and misunderstood expectations can lead to feelings of confusion, inadequacy, and hopelessness which, over time, can take its toll.


  1. Job demands 

Next on the list is job demands. Typical issues in this remit include a feeling of overwhelm, that there’s not enough hours in the day and a struggle to cope. This could be due to an excessive workload or an inability to cope with certain tasks. Callers in this category often report symptoms of burnout and stress-related absences.


  1. Work relationships

Relationships can be a cause of tension across all areas of life. Work relationships came in as the third biggest cause of stress in the workplace. Calls can range from conflict with colleagues to bullying and victimisation across the organisation.


  1. Support issues 

The next biggest contributor to stress in the workplace is related to support issues. Issues in this category include receiving insufficient support in the role and a lack of guidance from management. Employees having difficulty in this category can often feel frustrated, anxious, and neglected.


  1. Changes at work

The final category is changes at work which can include big organisational shifts or smaller scale team changes like redundancies, a flood of leavers or a shift in company policy. Change can bring uncertainty which can sometimes be a trigger of stress for employees, making it hard for them to stay engaged with workplace culture.

Countless potential workplace stresses reveal themselves from call data, but behind each call is an employee struggling. This stress can affect productivity, performance, and absence levels. It can also seep into other areas of life, affecting relationships, work-life balance, and mental health. It is vital for both employers and employees to grasp the impact of work-stresses and work towards a place of understanding, awareness, and support.


Lisa Baker

Author Lisa Baker

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