Wednesday 23 January 2019

Stress in workplace 'soared in wake of downturn'

Employees in the health sector, public administration and manufacturing experience the highest levels of stress. Stock photo
Employees in the health sector, public administration and manufacturing experience the highest levels of stress. Stock photo

Anne-Marie Walsh

Irish workers' stress levels soared fastest out of 10 EU countries in the wake of the economic crash, a new study reveals.

Workplace stress doubled from 8pc in 2010 to 17pc in 2015, according to the Economic and Social Research Institute.

But stress levels are still below the average for 10 Western European countries, with 19pc of staff suffering from it.

Irish workers are more likely to be affected by bullying and harassment than workers in the average European country surveyed.

Employees in the health sector, public administration and manufacturing experience the highest levels of stress.

Those in professional jobs and managers are most at risk.

"Job stress is becoming a more important issue in the Irish workplace as the economy becomes increasingly service-based," said Dr Helen Russell, an author of the report.

"Employers need to manage these risks to prevent the significant individual and organisational costs of stress-related illness."

Workers were less likely to experience stress if they experienced support from co-workers and managers, felt that their job was useful or had a feeling of work well done.

Irish workers enjoy relatively high levels of support from managers and co-workers, the study found.

However, these factors had less impact on stress levels than emotional demands, including dealing with angry clients or customers or having to hide emotions while at work, time pressure, bullying or violence, and long working hours.

Those working more than 40 hours a week are twice as likely to experience job stress as those who are working 36 to 40 hours.

Under health and safety legislation, employers have a duty of care to protect employees against any personal injury to their mental health arising from job stress.

Chief executive of the Health and Safety Authority Dr Sharon McGuinness said understanding the complex array of factors which caused stress for individuals, in and out of work, was not simple.

She said the authority has a "work-positive" tool online, which can help employers to assess their stress levels at work.

Irish Independent

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