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22-02-2012Absence up by a third during recession as stress takes its toll
Major study reveals shocking impact of stress during downturn
One in four workers suffers work-related stress in times of recession, resulting in sharp spikes in employee absence, according to research published today.
The number of staff taking time off due to job stress leaps 25% during economic downturns, while total time due to work-related stress increases by more than a third during a slump.
The study of tens of thousands of civil servants in Northern Ireland by researchers at the University of Nottingham and the University of Ulster should act as a “stark warning” to employers, according to the Society of Occupational Medicine. It said that the results showed firms that they should use occupational health services or risk long-term damage to productivity.
The study, published in the scientific journal Occupational Medicine, compared the findings of two surveys. The first was conducted in 2005 prior to the onset of the recession and the second in 2009 while the economy was severely hit. Scientists assessed how exposed respondents were to the pressures of work by looking at areas such as the demands of the job, control over work and the support they felt they had from managers. They also measured workers perceptions of how stressed they were at work and how much time they had taken off because of work-related stress.
Jonathan Houdmont, the study’s lead author, said the “stark differences” in the responses given at these two time points “clearly” show that national economic crises can have “substantial” implications for workers’ health and organisational performance.
“The findings suggest that those organisations which seek to reduce work-related stress during austere economic times are likely to experience lower staff absence and greater productivity,” Houdmont said.
This story first appeared on www.hi-mag.com and has been used with kind permission.
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