Is work stressing you out?

 ·16 Sep 2012

South Africans are feeling the pressure of work life, with stresses in a professional environment pushing them to tipping point, according to a survey by workspace provider, Regus.

Regus collected response from 16,000 professionals from all over the world and found that 52% of South African respondants felt stress levels rising over the past year.

While day-to-day issues accounted for the added stress – such a rising fuel price and inflation rates – the survey found that it was professional issues that topped the list of causes.

Chief causes for stress among the respondents were personal finance issues (62%), work (55%) and having to deal with customers (48%).

Globally, small business workers were more likely to be stressed by customers (42%) than large business workers (27%) – but were less vexed by management (20%) than their counterparts in larger firms (40%).

“The heavy toll of stress falls not only on workers, but also on businesses as they that find their staff is unable to perform as required, need more sick leave and are less efficient,” Regus said.

Stress costs business

According to Vicky Eriksson of The People Element, as much as R3 billion a year is being lost to workplace stress in South Africa.

This is due to absenteeism, lower productivity, staff turnover, workers’ compensation, medical insurance, and other stress-related expenses.

The People Element is a company that specialises in “people effectiveness”, assisting organisations in developing efficient professional individuals and teams.

“Unhappy employees are often angry,” Eriksson said, “In 2004, the World Health Organisation called workplace violence in South Africa ‘alarming’ with half of all healthcare workers in government hospitals reporting verbal abuse, and 42.5% witnessing or being attacked at work (compared to 19.5% in private hospitals).”

The People Element noted that stress not only has a detrimental effect on working relationships and happiness at home, but also directly impacts a business’ bottom line.

“60% of lost workdays each year can be attributed to stress. Around 80% of visits to health care providers are due to stress-related conditions,” it said.

“Stressed employees tend to make mistakes and be less creative too.”

From the Regus survey, 63% of respondants said flexible working would reduce stress levels, noting that flexi-hours would be more family-friendly and flexible working locations would be more cost-effective.

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