Long-term absence and stress at work

Stress is a primary factor behind increasing levels of long-term absence from the workplace in the UK. This is the suggestion of a new survey from EEF, the manufacturers' body, which found employees are becoming increasingly worrisome of their job security due to the poor economic outlook.

According to the findings, recessionary pressures are causing people to fear their position within a company may be in jeopardy.

The investigation looked at a total of 429 workers - and a significant jump in long-term absence rates due to mental health problems was recorded.

These issues included stress, depression and anxiety and were reported for both manual and office-based staff.

Sayeed Khan, chief medical adviser at EEF, which is responsible for 55 per cent of UK exports, stated: "The ways to reduce short-term absence are being exhausted and we need a fresh approach from government to address the more deep-rooted problems such as stress and back pain."

Dr Lori Bisbey, Chartered Psychologist, comments: "My clinical experience is that stress is frequently a significant factor in long term absences from work. In the past few years, I've noticed that employers are putting far more pressure on their employees, increasing the likelihood that stress absence will occur.  Employees are worried about losing their positions if they are not able to cope with the new increased pressures and often increased work hours.

"It is my opinion that in order to tackle this problem, organisations may have to change their expectations  about the impact of stress and to adopt organisation wide management strategies to reduce stress that include human resources strategies, staffing strategies, and employee assistance/counselling strategies."