Conducted by the Dolan Contractor Group, experts in contractor payroll and accountancy, the Stress in the Workplace study gathered responses from employees of 140 companies across the UK. Respondents were asked about the causes of what was deemed ‘excessive workplace stress’, how they combat stress to maintain good mental health and what their employers do to support them through stress.
The greatest cause of this stress in the UK workplace was found to be long working hours, with 41% of respondents to a study stating that they have been affected. The next most common is a deadline or client pressure with 32%, followed by low pay and the inability to build financial savings with 29%.
The study also identified differences in how stress is experienced between genders, and between employees of SMEs or large companies. Also revealed were crucial differences between the support available to permanent employees and that offered to employees hired on a contractor or freelance basis.
When asked how they would deal with stress, 6% of permanent employee respondents stated that they would not seek help if they were suffering from excessive stress, opting to ‘hope it gets better’. This figure rose to 17% of contractors and freelancers surveyed.
There were clear differences between SMEs and large companies when employees attributed sources of stress. Just under half of employees in SMEs (47%) stated that low pay, the inability to build savings and no chance of progression were stress points.
When respondents were asked how they’d tackle stress, 30% of those at large companies stated that they would speak to their manager. The amount that would seek help from their manager reduced to 12% of workers at SMEs. It’s possible that small businesses need to work harder to provide anonymity or an environment that workers feel comfortable to confide in senior staff members.
The majority of employees from large companies stated that long working hours (40%) caused them the most stress, followed by overwork and management pressure (36%).
Further findings from the study:
- Female contractor workers are less likely to suffer from excessive stress due to long working hours when compared to female permanent workers. It is still predominantly women who take time off work, as the main carers for children within a family. They have to set their working hours around childcare, made possible by freelancing and contracting.
- Contractors and freelancers were found to rely more heavily on their friends and families for support, with 26% stating this was their method to combat excessive stress. Furthermore, 30% of contractor and freelancer workers have taken leave from work to combat excessive stress.
- Just 5% of the respondents stated that they would seek help from a medical specialist to combat excessive stress in the workplace.