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Stress is endemic in professional services

26 September 2018

Stress is endemic in professional servicesProfessionals in law and accountancy are not doing enough to relieve their own work-related stress, according to new research.

A survey of 1,015 UK workers by learning website Obby has found that professional services workers - such as those in accountancy and law - are the worst in the UK at taking time to relieve their stress levels.

The findings show that 48% of all workers do "little or nothing" to manage stress but that figure rises to 58% for those in professional services. Almost eight in ten (78%) of professional services workers said a lack of time was their biggest obstacle. Other sectors where workers are not taking steps to manage their stress are education (55%) and healthcare (53%).

Of those who do take measures to reduce stress, 44% of those polled said exercise and sport were their favourite stress-busting activities; personal interests and hobbies came second for 39% of respondents; 35% said they spend time with friends and family.

Tom Batting, Obby co-founder, said: "It's extremely worrying how many workers within professional services claim they do not prioritise getting the stress relief that is so important for maintaining their mental health. The irony is that this can actually become a vicious cycle - if we don't make time for stress relief, this can lead to becoming more stressed or even burnout, both of which can reduce productivity further."

Managers and bosses should ensure that employees take steps to manage stress, he added. "We see this time and again - employers who provide workers with healthy and stress-busting 'perks' like yoga, meditation or even arts and craft workshops reap the rewards in a more productive - and satisfied - workforce."

Also this week, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and mental health charity Mind have published new guidance for managers to help them support mental health at work.

The updated mental health guide for managers comes as CIPD research has found that only 32% of organisations train line managers to support staff with poor mental health.

A recent Mind survey of over 44,000 employees found that only 42% of employees felt their manager would be able to spot signs that they were struggling with poor mental health. Mental ill health is now the primary cause of long-term sickness absence for 22% of UK organisations.

Rachel Suff, senior employment relations adviser at the CIPD, said: "Mental health is still the elephant in the room in most workplaces, and a culture of silence can have a damaging impact on a business as well as individuals. This can include an escalation of someone's condition as well as higher levels of sickness absence, presenteeism, turnover, conflict, and disengagement. There's also the risk of potential legal action from employees who feel discriminated against.

"The role of line managers in employee well-being is vital. They are often the first port of call for someone needing help and are most likely to see warning signs of poor mental health among employees."

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