Give HSE More Resources to Tackle Workplace Stress, CIPD Urges

Give HSE More Resources to Tackle Workplace Stress, CIPD Urges

  • Date: Monday 16th April 2018
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A CIPD survey of 6000 UK workers has shown that intermediate-level managers and professionals are suffering the most in terms of both mental health and physical health. Only a small majority of senior managers, mid-level workers and professionals reported that work had a positive impact on mental health. The survey is representative of the UK workforce in terms of gender, full or part-time work status, organisation size and industry.

Put into context, only 1% of workers reported an injury due to an accident in the last year. However just under half of respondents reported a work-related health condition, the most common complaints being backache or other musculo-skeletal problems, anxiety and depression.  

Middle management is particularly affected by problems connected with work overload, in those roles where day-to-day deliverables cannot just be placed to one side.  The voluntary sector and public-sector workers are more likely to have unmanageable workloads than private sector workers. For workers at this level, stress and work-related anxiety and depression are common, which the CIPD interprets as the existence of a ‘squeezed middle’. 

Major areas of concern identified by workers in the survey include:

  • Job design, with the average employee working five hours a week more than they would like to and one in four working ten hours or more per week more than they would like to. 63% of respondents stated that they would like to reduce their hours. 
  • A worrying 30% of workers reported workloads that are to some extent unmanageable. 6% claimed to be swamped by what they do each day at work. 
  • Underemployment is a problem for about one in six workers, with direct implications for people’s pay and living standards.
  • 22% of workers report that they often or always suffer from excessive pressure and exhaustion, with 11% experiencing misery often or always.

The CIPD has put forward a range of suggestions to tackle endemic workplace ill health, aimed at employers and government. 

For employers:

  • Focus on job design to ensure the best use of workers’ skills
  • Give employees a more meaningful voice in the organisation
  • Offering flexible working opportunities
  • Conduct a stress audit and direct resources to address any problems identified

For government:

  • Provide funding to support small firms at a local level to help them improve their people management and development practices
  • Ensure that the Health and Safety Executive has sufficient resources to encourage all employers to meet their existing legal duty to identify and manage the causes of work-related stress.


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