Mzukaaa Mwingi

Causes of work-related stress

Research commissioned by the Health and Safety Executive has indicated that:

about half a million people in the UK experience work-related stress at a level they believe is making them ill
up to 5 million people in the UK feel ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressed by their work
stress-related illness is responsible for the loss of 6.5 million working days each year
costs society about £3.7 billion every year (at 1995/6 prices) (Cartwright and Cooper 2002)
In 2001, the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) provided funds to the University of Plymouth for a three-year nationwide study of occupational stress in UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). The primary aim of this study was to provide stress benchmarks for Higher Education, to enable comparisons with other professions and intra-sector comparisons with cognate HEIs (i.e. old versus new universities) (Tytherleigh, Webb, Cooper and Ricketts 2005). The main causes of stress identified in all HEI's were:

long hours
job security, particularly in relation to terms of employment and stress levels
work relationships
resources and communications
These issues are explored in more detail below.

Work-related stressors


This is the extent to which individuals feel that the demands of their workload and the associated time pressures are a source of pressure, for example:

unrealistic deadlines and expectations, often as a result of super achievement by the most talented
technology overload
unmanageable workloads
under recruitment of staff for work already timetabled

The experience of pressure is strongly linked to perceptions of control. Lack of influence and consultation in the way in which work is organized and performed can be a potential source of pressure, for example:

lack of control over aspects of the job
lack of involvement in decision making
account not taken of staff ideas/suggestions about the job
lack of influence...