“Stress manifests as a physical, psychological or social dysfunction resulting in individuals feeling unable to bridge the gap with the requirements or expectations placed upon them.” PAS 1010
“The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work.” HSE
Those pressures may come from many differing sources and when their combined effect is overwhelming, stress occurs. This means that stress is not good for you. Stress is an unhealthy state of body or mind or both.
For many years, people have referred to the Flight or Fight response as the stress response but Flight/Fight is a one off reaction to a perceived challenge or pressure and as such, is a safety response, ensuring the individual is alerted to possible threats allowing them to take avoiding action.
However, continually being in this state means that the body chemicals associated with Flight/Fight are constantly being stimulated and the result is imbalance, creating ill health of one type or another. This is stress.
Most official statistics are at least 1 year old and statistics from other sources vary widely.
Here are just a few:
Office of National Statistics 2012
131 million days were lost due to sickness absences in the UK in 2011, down from 178 million days in 1993.
In 2011, around 131 million days were lost through absences due to sickness or injury, a fall of around 26 per cent since 1993 where 178 million days were lost (these figures include employees and self-employed, aged 16+, across the whole of the UK).
The latest estimates from the Labour Force Survey 2010/11 show:
The total number of cases of stress in 2010/11 was 400,000 out of a total of 1,152,000 for all work-related illnesses. This is significantly lower than the number in 2001/02.
The number of new cases of work-related stress has reduced to 211,000 from 233,000 in 2009/10 (change not statistically significant).
The industries that reported the highest rates of work-related stress in the last three years were health, social work, education and public administration.
The occupations that reported the highest rates of work-related stress in the last three years were health and social service managers, teachers and social welfare associate professionals.
Findings from the ninth annual NHS staff survey revealed that 30 per cent of NHS staff reported they had experienced stress related to their jobs last year – a rise from 29 per cent in 2010 – while, among ambulance staff, the figure hit 34 per cent.
EAP provider Validium 2012
Recorded a 70% increase in staff using EAP services between 2010 and 2012, with 60% of all contact from employees concerning personal issues.
CIPD/Simply Health 2011 Absence Management Report
Cost of Absence in the Public Sector is £800 per employee per year
Average number of absence days – 9.1
Cost of Absence in the Private Sector is £476 per employee per year
Average number of absence days – 6.4
Estimated annual cost to UK business : £13 billion
Workers have indicated they work 26 million extra hours in the workplace each day, according to new research from Aviva’s latest report on health of the workplace. It shows six in ten employees regularly work beyond their contracted hours, putting in an average of 1.5 hours overtime a day. Nearly one in four claim they work an extra 2-3 hours daily. 79% of these hours are unpaid, which means workers are providing around worth £225 million of ‘free’ hours each day for employers.
CIPD Survey October 2011
Stress has become the most common cause of long-term sickness absence for both manual and non-manual employees, according to the CIPD/Simplyhealth Absence Management survey.
British businesses lose an estimated £26 billion each year in sickness absence and lost productivity. With greater awareness and mental health support, Mind indicate businesses could save one third off these costs - £8 billion a year’.
Stress has forced one in five workers (19%) to call in sick, yet the vast majority of these (93%) say they have lied to their boss about the real reason for not turning up.
Axa/PPP/Work Foundation 2010
Presenteeism (when an employee attends work but is less productive than normal) costs businesses 1.5 times more than sickness absence.