The average UK worker now spends 82,068 hours of their life at work – and it’s having an effect on UK employees. With so much pressure in the office, 40% of all work-related illnesses are now related to stress
We surveyed 2,000 British workers to find out how workplace stress affects their lives and what could be done to help. Our questions were wide ranging to establish the effects working hours, breaks, colleagues and environment had on stress levels. Each respondent was asked to give their job a stress rating of 1 to 10 – with one being the least stressful and ten the most – so we could see what types of working conditions were causing the biggest issues.
Location, Location, Location
One of the major factors affecting stress levels at work is location. Of those we surveyed, people who work from home had far lower stress levels than office workers. Home working seems to offer workers a more relaxed atmosphere, where they are more in control of their working day.
The number and length of breaks taken by those who work at home seems to be a major factor in why location has such an effect on stress. Over half of those who work in an office (54%) admit that they rarely take breaks away from their desks, with many employees only halting their daily slog for a bit of lunch – and often not even that.
In contrast, their counterparts working from home tend to have much more down time during the working day, with well over a third (39%) taking three or more breaks.
Dr. Mariette Jansen, also known as Dr. De-Stress, who is a stress expert, coach, and trainer, believes that taking breaks at work is a healthy way to respond to stressful situations:
“Stress is the result of ‘stretching’ yourself too much, so any action to stop the stretching, will avoid stress. If you consider that the average attention span of an adult is about 20 minutes, you can understand that it’s important to have regular breaks. A break doesn’t have to take ages, though, it could be as simple as standing up and having a stretch or walk around.”
To further compliment the remote work lifestyle, only one third of those we surveyed working from home said they regularly have negative thoughts about work – that’s compared to over half of office-based workers.
It’s not all plain sailing for home workers, though. Spending all of your time working from your own house can leave you feeling isolated, reflected by the fact that almost half of those who work from home say they have no one to talk to when things go wrong.
An office environment can be much more supportive when you have issues, with over two thirds of people (67%) who have office-based jobs saying they have someone to talk to when they are stressed.
Jan Lawrence, Director of In Equilibrium, a company that provides stress management training, thinks it’s important to talk.
“Studies have repeatedly shown that social support is the number one buffer against stress. One person is unlikely to be able to provide all the support we need, so it is important we have different people to call upon for the different challenges we aim to overcome. Resilient people are more likely to have strong social support than those who are less resilient.”
The most and LEast Stressed Regions
Across the UK, the average stress score people gave their jobs was 5 out of 10. This score varied between regions and seems to be have been influenced largely by the hours people worked.
Northern Ireland and the West Midlands were the top two most stressed places to work in the UK. Nearly half of workers in the West Midlands work regular overtime, and 54% of them have regular negative thoughts about their jobs.
In contrast, the least stressful place to work in the UK was Wales, with a stress score of just 4 out of 10. Wales also had one of the lowest rates for overtime, with 40% of workers never spending extra hours at the office.
This research highlights that regular breaks, social interaction and shorter working hours are the best way to ensure stress is limited in the workplace.
How much stress are you experiencing at work? Does the pressure from your job match up with our findings? Take our quiz to find out, and get in touch with us on Facebook and Twitter if you’ve got any tried-and-tested stress-busting techniques.