Over a third (39%) of New Zealand employees say that their work-related stress levels have increased to higher levels in the past year, according to a new global study by workspace provider Regus.
Among Kiwi employees the chief causes of stress generally were either workplace or finance related – with 54% citing customers as the reason, 51% saying it was personal finances and 39% blaming their job. Factors relating to personal life (ie: partners or children) rated significantly lower.
The most commonly cited reasons for work-related stress included long hours, heavy workloads, job insecurity and interpersonal conflicts, Filippo Sarti from Regus Asia Pacific said. “The heavy tolls of stress falls not only on workers and their families, but also on businesses as they find that their staff under-perform, need more sick-leave and are less efficient. Businesses that want to help their staff lead more rewarding lives cannot fail to analyse and tackle levels of stress within their organisation.”
Almost 80% of Kiwi employees thought one way to ease stress was flexible working, as people believed it was a key method for businesses to save on costs and to help to improve productivity, he said. “Giving employees tools that allow them to work from home more or from locations outside the office, or enabling more suitable hours, can be an effective way to reduce stress. It can also help people be more efficient, and a productive person feels more happy and secure in their job.”
There were other ways HR and management could work to provide a solution, Sarti said. “They need to create stress free environments and enable their teams to be productive. This means making sure employees are in control of their workloads and fostering healthy team relationships and reducing wasted time such as long commutes.”
Meanwhile, a global survey by UK-based professional services consultancy Towers Watson found that workers “often experience excessive pressure levels in their job” – which was leading to growing levels of work-related stress. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa as a whole, 47% of companies reported high levels of stress in their workforce, while the figure was six out of 10 in the US.
Further, in a recent report in the Lancet medical journal, UK researchers said that having a highly demanding job, but little control over it, could be a deadly combination. After analysing 13 existing European studies, they found that “job strain” was linked to a 23% increased risk of heart attacks and deaths from heart disease.