As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Acas has published research which finds that 60% of employees who have felt stressed or anxious in the last year attribute this to their workload.


Against the backdrop of a high-level vision for mental health, Acas commissioned a YouGov poll to find out more about individuals’ current experience of mental wellbeing at work, specifically what are the causes and reactions to stress and anxiety in the workplace.


The Acas workplace policy paper reveals some key findings:


  • Two-thirds of employees (66%) have felt stressed and/or anxious about work in the last 12 months, with particular variation by age – 76% for those under the age of 35, compared to 54% for those aged 55 and over
  • Less than 1-in-10 (8%) say their organisation is ‘very good’ at preventing employees from feeling stressed and/or anxious about work
  • The most commonly cited cause of stress and/or anxiety for employees is their workload (60%), followed by the way they are managed (42%) and balancing home and work life (35%)
  • Employees who feel stressed tend to take time out to manage it, such as having a cup of tea or going for a walk (41%). More than a quarter (28%) don’t do anything, and the same proportion use annual leave, with far fewer (15%) opting to take sick leave
  • A third (33%) of employees think that ‘a reduced workload’ would help with feeling less stressed and/or anxious, followed by ‘better flexible working opportunities’ (26%) and ‘more clarity around what is required from me for my job role’ (23%)
  • Less than half (43%) of employees would talk to their manager in the event of being stressed and/or anxious at work, and more than one in five (22%) would not talk to anyone at work
  • A large majority (72%) of employees think that it is a manager’s role to recognise and address stress and anxiety in the workplace; 60% said the same of an individual themselves; 31% think their colleagues and 28% said HR

The poll found the solutions named by the employees very much mirror the causes:


  • 33% think that a reduced workload would help them feel less stressed
  • 26% pointed to better flexible working opportunities
  • 23% said that more clarity around what is required would help


Read the full workplace policy paper ‘Stress and anxiety at work: personal or cultural?


Source: The Chartered Institute for Payroll Professionals (CIPP)

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