Levels of workplace stress at UK companies have been highlighted by a new report.

Research conducted by mental health charity Mind found work is the most stressful factor in people‘s lives. It found more than one in three (34 per cent) members of the public would describe their work life as being either very or quite stressful.

Nearly three in five people (57 per cent) taking part in the report say they drink after work and one in seven (14 per cent) drink during the working day in a bid to cope with workplace stress.

Smoking was used by 28 per cent of respondents to combat stress, while 15 per cent of employees are taking antidepressants, 16 per cent are using over the counter sleeping aids and ten per cent take prescribed sleeping tablets.

Mind also found that one in five (19 per cent) take a day off sick because of stress, but 90 per cent of them gave their bosses a different reason for their absence.

The charity‘s chief executive Paul Farmer stated businesses cannot afford to ignore work-related mental health issues such as stress.

“Our research shows that employees are still experiencing high levels of stress at work, which is negatively impacting their physical and mental health,” he said.

Mr Farmer added: “We know that right now, one in six workers is experiencing depression, stress or anxiety and yet our survey tells us that most managers don‘t feel they have had enough training or guidance to support them.”

Flexible working hours and generous annual leave are among the measures Mind says can help employers to boost the wellbeing of their members of staff.

Over half of managers (56 per cent) polled by Mind said they would like to do more to improve staff mental wellbeing but they stated they require more training and guidance to do so.

Chief Executive of Mind, Paul Farmer, said:

Improving mental wellbeing in the workplace doesn’t have to cost a lot. Our research shows that people whose organisations offered flexible working hours and generous annual leave said such measures supported their mental wellbeing.

Three in five people said that if their employer took action to support the mental wellbeing of all staff, they would feel more loyal, motivated, committed and be likely to recommend their workplace as a good place to work.

Mind is urging managers and HR professionals to sign up to their free webinars and resources which will focus on creating mentally healthy workplaces in tough economic times and how to support staff who are stressed or have mental health problems.

Research reference: Populus interviewed 2060 adults aged 18+ in England and Wales, in work between 6-10 March 2013.

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