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Raising awareness of stress in support of Stress Awareness Month – April 2023

In 2021, Gallup found that over 40% of the global adult population are worried or stressed. And according to this article from Spill, 60% of employees in major global economies are experiencing workplace stress.

But what is the definition of stress?

The charity Mind defines it as ‘stress is how we react when we feel under pressure or threatened. It usually happens when we are in a situation that we don't feel we can manage or control’, and there are some typical scenarios where people experience stress:

  • Individually: this could be due to having too many responsibilities to manage
  • In a group: causes include your family or close friends going through bereavement or financial struggles
  • In your community: such as your religious group experiencing discrimination
  • Societal: events such as a natural disaster, or an epidemic/pandemic

There are two types of stress – acute, which can last from minutes to a few hours, and chronic, which lasts longer, and often keeps coming back.

How can stress affect employees in the workplace?

The article published by Spill also analysed some specific causes of stress that affect employees in the UK and US. Here are some of the top factors:

UK employee stress causes:

  • Workplace politics: 37%
  • Lack of interdepartmental communication: 34%
  • The work performance of others: 33%

While own work performance (31%), customer satisfaction levels (26%) and tensions with senior staff also affected (26%) also made the list.

US employee stress causes:

  • Change in leadership: 80%
  • Workload: 39%

In addition, 91% of workers said that the quality of their work is negatively impacted by unmanageable workplace stress, and 76% said workplace stress has a negative effect on their personal relationships.

According to Spill, the industry you work in, and your age, gender, identity and sexuality have also been found to affect employees differently.

In the UK, employees working in local or national government (92%), Telecoms (88%) and Media and Marketing (85%) reported feeling stress at work and topped the list. While, albeit still high percentages, people working in financial sector (67%) and those working in Arts & Culture and IT & Technology (74%) were at the bottom of the list.

Each week, work-related stress is reportedly felt most by 31% of 25-34-year-old UK workers, with 27% of 18-24-year-olds next, followed by 23% of 35-44-year-olds and 22% of 45-54-year-olds.

In the US and Canada, 62% of women said they felt stress daily compared to 52% of men. Whereas women working in the UK said they feel stressed 10 days a month, compared to approximately 7 days for men.

If a person is Black (73%), South Asian (77%), East Asian (85%) or White non-British (79%), it has been found in the UK that they’re more likely to report being negatively impacted by the stress of their jobs.

While 40% of lesbian, gay or bisexual employees, and 55% of trans employees, say that they experience conflict in the workplace, which leads to work stress.

But why should workplace stress matter to employers?

In the UK, The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that ‘an estimated 17 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression, or anxiety in 2021/22’ – which equates to over half of all working days.

But this is no surprise when the HSE also found that an estimated 1.8 million workers in Great Britain are suffering with a work-related illness. And over half of those are due to stress, depression, and anxiety.

The story is similar around the world. Here are some other examples…

In the US, businesses reported losing up to $300 billion a year, due to workplace stress having an impact on productivity.

In Australia, it was found in 2019/20 that the median time lost in working weeks due to mental health conditions was 30.7.

While in Europe it’s estimated that 50% of all working days are lost to Psychosocial risks.

Employers must ensure that the health and wellbeing of their employees is a top priority, and establish ways to identify stress sources, help manage stress and reduce stress in the workplace – especially if the working environment is having a significant effect.

But at the same time, this approach will benefit a business, because it can help to reduce the amount of time and productivity lost to workplace stress-related absences.

The importance of Stress Awareness Month

Stress is clearly a major issue affecting millions of people, either at home, work or both. But, as outlined by The Stress Management Society, we should be making more of a connection between mental health and physical health.

As stress affects both. It can cause physical conditions, for example, heart disease, insomnia, digestive issues, and immune system challenges, and mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

First established in 1992, Stress Awareness Month helps to raise awareness of the causes and cures of this global issue. The initiative promotes open conversation about the impacts of stress, to try and help remove the guilt, shame, and stigma associated with mental health.

It also encourages us all to talk about stress, and open up about our mental and emotional state with friends, families, colleagues, and professionals.

Discover more here, including some free resources and things you can do to support others, such as sharing your coping mechanisms.

How are ILX supporting employees?

At ILX we have over 20 trained Mental Health First Aiders, who have access to a wealth of resources to support our teams, including access to guidance and an interactive tool called 'the Stress Container'. Which helps to understand how individuals experience stress, how to address stress levels and how to stop the containing overflowing.

We also have a Welfare Officer who is dedicated to supporting our staff. And as part of Mental Health Awareness Week last year, we published a series of blogs and ran a webinar called ‘Understanding and overcoming anxiety and loneliness’.

Our diversity, equality, and inclusion (DE&I) group actively works on initiatives to help our team to be their authentic selves in the workplace as well. You can find out more about our DE&I group here.