According to a recent study, more employers are focusing on workplace stress and how they can help employees overcome it.

The “Health, Wellbeing and Productivity” study conducted by Towers Watson indicates that an increasing number of organisations are beginning to combat employee stress through a range of wellbeing and health programmes.

Currently, about 40% of employers in the UK already have a stress management programme in place with approximately 30% more working on similar schemes to be introduced within the next couple of years. 

The research also indicates that of the businesses that already focus on staff wellbeing, almost all of them believe that stress is a problem in the workplace and encourage a work-life balance for their employees. 

According to the study, 90% of the employers surveyed indicated that the most substantial cause of stress in their staff included long hours and excessive workloads.  Technological advances, which facilitate access to work outside of the office, came in a close second.

Employers are attacking workplace stress by implementing Employee Assistance Programmes or offering more flexible work schedules. These traditional schemes are effective in helping staff handle stress, but do very little pre-emptively.  Out of the businesses surveyed, only about 30% actively offer awareness and education campaigns, stress audits or risk assessments.

“The combination of working long hours and feeling the need to remain on call outside working hours weighs heavily on some employees’ shoulders,” explains Towers Watson’s Rebekah Haynes.

“Employers should think about these factors when developing their health and wellbeing programme, but they should also think beyond providing support at the point of need. Understanding what drives stress in the workplace will help to identify targeted programmes.” 

The study has shown HR professionals that there is a greater need for employers to not only help staff deal with existing stress, but a need to attack it before it starts.

There were 74 leading UK organisations with a total of 785,000 employees across a number of sectors who participated in the study.