Friday, 17 May 2013
EU study finds work-related stress not properly risk managed
Just over 40% of workers across Europe feel that work-related stress is not handled well in their organisation, according to a new survey carried out on behalf of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA). The poll also suggests a link between stress felt by employees and practices within organisations to combat its threat.
EU-OSHA Director Christa Sedlatschek
Furthermore, the 3rd edition of the pan-European survey conducted by Ipsos MORI reveals that over half of workers believe work-related stress is common, with job security and job reorganisation cited as the main cause.
There is also low awareness amongst respondents of programmes or policies that make it easier for workers to continue in employment up to, or beyond, retirement age.
Overall the findings do not make good reading for those charged with health and safety in the workplace and suggest these professionals need to do more to protect their workforce and in turn boost productivity.
EU-OSHA Director Christa Sedlatschek commented on the findings: "41% of workers across Europe say that work-related stress is not handled well in their workplace, with 15% telling us it is handled 'not at all well'. We are very much focused on tackling psychosocial risks, such as stress, in the workplace. Next year we will launch our Healthy Workplaces Campaign on 'Managing Stress'. The message to be conveyed across European companies of different sizes and sectors is that psychosocial risks can be dealt with in the same logical and systematic way as other health and safety issues."
According to the survey, around half of workers across Europe (51%) perceive that work-related stress is common in their workplace, with 16% saying it is 'very common'.
Work-related stress is felt more keenly by female workers (54%) than their male counterparts (49%) and also by those aged between 18-54 (53%) compared with those over 55 (44%).
Perceptions of work-related stress also vary by sector with those in health or care work being the most likely to say cases of work-related stress are common (61%, including 21% who say cases are 'very common').
Risk and health and safety managers will note keenly that there appears a link between the proportion of workers who say work-related stress is common and those who say it is not controlled well.
Seven in ten (72%) workers across Europe who say work-related stress is rare in their workplace also say it is controlled well, while six in ten (58%) workers who say work-related stress is common believe it is not controlled well.
The most common cause of work-related stress across Europe is perceived to be job insecurity or job reorganisation (72%) followed by hours worked or workload (66%).
However, among younger workers aged 18-34 these two causes are ranked joint highest-both at 69%. Furthermore, health or care workers are much more likely to select hours worked/workload (77%) than the average across all industries.
In countries with a higher level of public debt workers are more likely to cite job insecurity or job reorganisation as a perceived cause of work-related stress.
73% of workers in countries with public debt of more than 90% of GDP choose job insecurity or job reorganisation as a common cause of work-related stress compared to 66% of those in countries with public debt of 60% of GDP or less.
Unacceptable behaviours, including bullying or harassment, are perceived as a common cause of work-related stress by six in ten workers (59%).
Fewer workers perceive a lack of support from colleagues or superiors (57%), a lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities (52%) or limited opportunity to manage work patterns (46%) as common causes of work-related stress.
Across Europe, half of those polled (52%) expect the proportion of workers aged over 60 to increase by 2020 in their workplace, whilst 43% think this is unlikely.
However, only one in eight workers (12%) are aware of policies and programmes to make it easier for older workers to continue working up to or beyond retirement age.
Awareness of policies increases as workplace size increases from 7% in the smallest workplaces (1-10 workers) up to 19% in the largest workplaces (more than 250 workers).
Among those who are not aware of such programmes and policies, 61% support their introduction.
Groups more likely to favour these policies include women, part-time workers, health or care workers and those in larger workplaces.
Ipsos MORI carried out the survey of full-time, part-time and self-employed workers in 31 European countries. These were the 27 current EU member states, together with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
A total of 16,622 interviews were conducted between 23 November, 2012 and 5 February, 2013. The number of interviews ranged from 200 in Liechtenstein to 770 in Switzerland, with an average of 536 interviews per country.