Stressed workers more likely to blame physical illnesses for absence

Stress has become the top health and safety concern in the workplace and stressed workers don't talk about it, a new study finds.

A quarter of stressed workers have taken time off but blame it on physical illness instead, a report by Aviva finds.

The report looks into the causes for employee absences in time for National Stress Awareness Day.

Stress has become the top health and safety concern in the workplace and National Stress Awareness Day aims to tackle the problems stressed workers face at work.

In 2014/15, 23.3 million days were lost due to work-related ill health. While some workplace stress is normal, excessive stress can interfere with your productivity and performance—and impact your physical and emotional health.

Lisa Gillespie – director of HR Services at Moorepay, thinks that, while stress is an abstract term without a specific medical definition, it can have a substantial impact on staff wellbeing and an organisation’s performance – both in a positive and negative sense.

She says, ‘Positive stress can motivate employees to stretch themselves and reach goals they previously thought unattainable. Negative stress, on the other hand, can have very serious consequences on employees’ health and their productivity.

‘Employers will find themselves treading a fine line if they want to identify whether external unknown stress factors are affecting an employee. Or, indeed, if work-related worries are leaving a worker feeling overwhelmed.’

Gillespie thinks that companies should build up the stress resilience of by detecting and countering stressful situations before they arise.

She has given advice on how businesses can combat stress in the work place and look after their staff.

Work in teams

Shared tasks are less likely to overwhelm staff and if someone is having a bad day, others help support getting the tasks completed

Reward over-achievement

Positive feedback amplifies the feelings individuals gain from having worked hard to achieve; this can counteract any feelings of being undermined in other parts of stressed workers life.

Break down

If a worker tells you of something which is creating pressure, spend time helping them to unpick the problems and putting practical measures in place such as breaking tasks down into small pieces or sharing them.

Deal with the problem

Deal with workers who cause stress for other workers, whether this be under-performance, bullying, frequent absences or negative attitude – they can tip an already stressed worker over the edge!

Further reading on stress management

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

Related Topics