Financial crisis has increased stress levels


A new study from the life insurance and pension provider Friends Life, has discovered that one third (32%) of the UK’s working population has called in sick to work due to stress, with over half (52%) of these respondents having called in sick due to stress in the last year alone. The study coincides with National Stress Awareness Day on 7 November. The three main causes of stress were found to be money (36%), work (25%) and relationships (16%). As the economic crisis rolls on it is unsurprising to see money and job security high up on this list. However, nearly half of respondents (48%) have felt more stress since the onset of the UK financial crisis in 2008 and are increasingly stressed about their job security (49%) as there appears to be little sign of an improving economic situation.

David Williams, Director of Group Protection at Friends Life comments,

“There is still much work to be done to ensure that stress caused by the working environment is recognised as a serious condition that impacts on the wellbeing of the individual and the productivity of the company.”

“This study gives intriguing insights into stress, particularly the revelation that two thirds (67%) of 18 to 24 year olds and over half (54%) of 25 to 34 year olds who have called in to work sick due to stress have done so in the past twelve months alone. This is an extremely worrying number of young people who are starting their working life under strain and is something which needs to be monitored carefully.”

The research also shows the economic crisis continues to seriously impact on the nation’s workforce, with large numbers of people worrying and feeling an inability to cope with work, money and relationships. This is being felt throughout the country, however, those in Northern Ireland feel the most stressed since the beginning of the UK’s financial troubles, with a huge 70% feeling more stressed than four years ago. In contrast, just two fifths (40%) of those living in the East Midlands have felt a rise in their stress levels.

David Williams continues,

“At Friends Life we understand that stress can have extremely significant ramifications for long-term health and wellbeing, and can seriously impact upon people’s lifestyles and those around them. The workplace can be one of the sources of stress but employers can manage it by having a stress management plan in place and by providing health and wellbeing services to prevent and manage stress such as Employee Assistance programmes and telephone health lines. Employers need to be ever vigilant and prepared for signs of stress so measures can be taken early to help employees feeling under strain. By taking these steps, it can have a positive impact for business productivity and employee well being.”