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Staff stress overlooked by managers ‘close to breaking point’

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“Constantly worried” managers are struggling to keep an eye of staff members’ stress levels because they are too busy dealing with their own, according to a new report.

Private medical insurance firm Bupa questioned 6,000 workers covering a variety of different industries to try and piece together how much of an issue workplace stress is and what can be done to resolve it.

It found that a fifth of middle managers had been feeling under too much pressure for over a year, while half felt as though they were in a state of constant anxiety. Furthermore, two-fifths of those had reported that their stress had led to them suffering from depression.

Many leaders felt as though they could not open up over the issues they were facing – with 67 per cent saying they would be likely to keep quiet if they are struggling with stress. In addition to this, only one in ten middle managers would actively seek out their boss to explain that they are feeling as though they are under too much pressure.

The main issue seems to be that bringing up the topic would give the impression that they are “weak”, with 15 per cent of respondents subscribing to this view.

Bupa’s clinical director of mental health Dr Sandra Delroy said: “While managers might be feeling the pressure too, they can make a huge difference by encouraging open and honest dialogue with their team. Let your employees know that feeling stressed is not a sign of weakness.”

She added that the issue can grow into “more serious mental and physical health problems” if it is left untreated.

Many business can work to reduce levels of stress by offering staff the opportunity to work from home for a couple of days a week. Mobile working policies can be extremely useful in helping to facilitate this.