Workplace Stress - A Necessary Motivation or Unprofitable Pressure?

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Doctors in the UK are reporting a dramatic rise in stress and depression, resulting in a record number of people being signed off work, some for up to weeks on end.
And the UK is just an example of a trend that is repeated across the developed world.
Victoria Fletcher, Health Editor of the Daily Mirror revealed that a survey of over 250 doctors found that stress is the most likely cause of ill health.
Whilst 76% of companies agree, doctors are blaming the increase on employers for not taking the well-being of their employees seriously.
That's because employee health and well being is only fourth on the list of priorities of most companies.
It's behind attracting staff, keeping them motivated and complying with legislation.
There seems to be a fine line between keeping an employee motivated and applying just too much pressure.
This delicate balance was acknowledged by Bill Callaghan, Chair of the Health and Safety Commission, when he said, "Pressure is part and parcel of all work and helps to keep us motivated.
But excessive pressure can lead to stress which undermines performance, is costly to employers and can make people ill.
" When this 'motivation/pressure' threshold has been reached the employee shows symptoms of stress.
This causes performance levels to decrease and as a result more pressure is applied.
It can then become a vicious circle, spiralling down until something gives.
And give it does.
One in three doctors has noticed a rise in people asking to be signed off for more than seven days because of stress related problems.
The CBI revealed that the average public sector worker takes 8.
5 days off sick every year ay a cost of £13 billion a year.
That's a staggering £531 per employee and it's the employer that's picking up the tab.
The problem is that the survey revealed that 85% of employers believe that "busy GP's are too ready to sign off patients as sick" and that "doctors sign off people far too quickly".
At a cost of £531 per employee year it's not surprising the many companies are investing in their own solutions.
Although expensive, some now have therapists on their payroll, whose purpose is to reduce stress and lower absenteeism.
Many have opted to provide employees with stress reduction CD's.
Just Google stress, reduction, online, therapy, self-help and your find sites like virtual-therapist.
com offering stress reducing mp3 downloads that employees can listen whenever they feel the need.
There is also a new approach to help employers work with their employees to manage the risks from work-related stress, available from the Health and Safety Executive.
This self-help approach to improve employee's health has approval from the highest level of government, Jane Kennedy, Minister for Work, said, "This is a very practical example of what can be done to demonstrate how easy it can be to reduce the causes of work related stress.
" Getting the motivation/pressure balance right has a profound effect on the profitability of the business.
Apart from promoting staff health and well-being, as an employer it makes sound financial sense to provide your employees some form of help to redress the balance.
And as an employee isn't it time to regain control of your working environment and reduce stress levels so that you can be motivated and enjoy work again?
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