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Workplace more stressful than five years ago, says survey

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. By taking over mundane tasks or increasing capacity for information storage and retrieval, or through instantaneous global communication, we are free to spend more time on the things that really matter to us. Or so the theory goes.

Unfortunately, recent research seems to be suggesting the opposite. Four out of five senior executives say that the workplace is a more stressful place than five years ago, according to a survey from Russam GMS, and three-quarters say that mobile technology is to blame.

Three in five said their employers expect them to answer emails outside of work hours and a fifth said that 'switching off from work at home' is their biggest health and wellbeing challenge.

Other drivers of stress included more demanding financial targets, the pressure to be on call 24/7 and email which 'makes things relentless.'

At the same time, more than 80 per cent of senior executives said their company has no procedures in place for recognising stress in the workplace, although 95 per cent said they would recognise if one of their colleagues were stressed.

The report quoted Health and Safety Executive figures that 11.3 million working days were lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2013/14, an average of 23 days per case - at a cost of £6.5 billion according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

Leading by example

Ian Joseph, Managing Director, Russam GMS said, 'A 24/7 working culture and increased use of mobile technology has made it difficult for people to switch off and is contributing to stress in the workplace.

'Stress is one of the leading causes of health problems and absence in the workplace so it's surprising that organisations are doing so little to recognise it or offer help to deal with it.

'If organisations are going to be fit for the future, leaders need to recognise the issue of stress and do something about it.

'Setting expectations about the use of mobiles and unplugging from emails during holidays is something senior executives should be doing as matter of course and leading by example.'

Acas publications and services

Acas has advice on Dealing with stress in the workplace, which details the causes of stress and how you can combat them. There's also advice on Social media and managing performance, and how employers can help their workforce deal with the distractions of modern technology.

Acas experts can visit your organisation and help you identify what might be causing stress in your workplace, as well as how to manage it. See Stress: how Acas can help for details.

Practical training is also available on how to handle Stress, improving Skills for supervisors, and Work/life balance.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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