Stress number one cause of long-term employee sickness

Building in mechanisms to help staff deal with stress into as part of a workplace inclusion policy could benefit both workers and employers.

According to research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), stress is, for the first time, the most common cause of long-term sickness absence for both manual and non-manual employees.

Among manual workers, stress is now level with acute medical conditions and has overtaken musculoskeletal problems to become the top cause of long-term absence, said the organisation, while among non-manual staff, stress has moved ahead of acute medical conditions as the leading cause of sick leave.

The CIPD said that there was a significant link between staff stress levels and a perceived lack of job security.

More than half (51 per cent) of employers planning to make redundancies in the next six months reported an increase in mental health problems among their staff compared with 32 per cent among those who are not planning to shed staff.

The public sector, where 50 per cent of respondents reported an increase in stress-related absence, has been particularly affected, with organisational change and restructuring cited as the number one cause of stress at work.

Commenting on the study, Gill Phipps, HR spokesperson for Simplyhealth, said that both staff and employers could benefit from taking action to help combat stress.

"Stress can often have a negative effect on the workplace, which can result in loss of productivity and disengaged employees. It's therefore encouraging that almost half of employers have a wellbeing strategy in place, with 73 per cent offering counselling services and a further 69 per cent providing an employee assistance programme.

"Employers need to ensure that benefits such as these are communicated effectively to staff in order for employees to get the most from them."