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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 October, 2003, 02:29 GMT
Bosses urged to cut work stress
Stress can have a serious impact on people's health
More than half of British workers believe bosses should be actively trying to improve their employees' health, a survey suggests.

Most of the 2,020 people questioned said it would cut stress levels and improve general wellbeing.

Most said it would also boost productivity and reduce sick leave.

The survey was carried out by Taylor Nelson Sofres for private health insurer Standard Life Healthcare.

High cost

The findings come just weeks after another survey suggested that stress costs British industry around 1.24bn each year.

The poll of 700 managers indicated that stress was lowering productivity. Two out of three blamed it for higher rates of staff turnover.

All employers have a duty to make sure that their employees health is not put at risk from exposure to work related stress
Chris Rowe,
Health and Safety Executive
In September, a survey by the think-tank The Work Foundation found many managers simply do not feel able to help employees' cope with mental health problems.

Their lack of confidence was shared by employees. Just 2% of the 1,596 people questioned said their manager would be able to help if they had a problem.

The Health and Safety Executive said employers must make sure the health of their workers is not damaged by stress.

"All employers have a duty to make sure that their employees health is not put at risk from exposure to work related stress," said Chris Rowe, its head of policy section.

"We welcome Standard Life Healthcare's survey which encourages employers to take stress seriously and ensure that the scale and impact are well known."

Stephen Bevan, director of research at The Work Foundation, also welcomed the findings.

"Employers already have a legal duty of care over the psychological well-being of their staff yet virtually none are carrying out risk analysis or putting preventative measures in place.

"This research highlights growing concern over mental ill-health in the workplace and its economic and human cost."

Mike Hall, chief executive of Standard Life Healthcare, said: "This survey shows that attitudes towards the way companies are engaged in the wellbeing of their staff are changing.

"People are now looking for their employers, not only to ensure that their healthcare is covered when they are sick but to intervene to prevent work related illnesses, such as stress.

"It's a win-win situation for employers as active management of staff stress and well-being can lead to an increase in company productivity and a reduction in illness related absence from work."

The BBC's Sarah Pennells
"You'd think if you were suffering from stress you'd know about it"


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