What priority does your business give to supporting work-related stress?

11 February 2019

According to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) over 11 million days are lost at work a year because of stress at work and in 2015/16 over 480,000 people in the UK reported that work-related stress was making them ill. This amounts to nearly 40% of all work-related illness.

Acas talks about the reluctance many employees have to talk about stress at work. Despite what statistics show there is still a stigma attached to stress and people still think they will be seen as weak if they admit they are struggling.

Mental health is no longer the taboo subject it once was and can affect anyone at any level of an organisation. It is therefore important that an employer takes steps to tackle the work-related causes of stress in its organisation and encourages staff to seek help at the earliest opportunity if they begin to experience stress.

Reducing work-related stress can be hugely beneficial to an employer, it can:

  • Make staff healthier and happier at work
  • Improve performance and make staff more productive
  • Reduce absence levels
  • Reduce workplace disputes
  • Make the organisation more attractive to job seekers.

The employer benefits are not the only reason to address work-related stress as an employer has a legal obligation to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees. As part of this, an employer must conduct risk assessments for work-related stress and take actions to prevent staff from experiencing a stress-related illness because of their work.

If you have fewer than five employees you don’t have to write anything down, however it may be useful to do so in case circumstances change so you can review it later. If you have five or more employees, you are required by law to write the risk assessment down.


It isn’t just the responsibility of the employer, there are many actions employees can take to reduce work-related stress, including:

  • Reaching out - simply sharing the stress by talking about it to someone
  • Support your health with exercise and nutrition – simple steps to increase energy and lift mood
  • Quality sleep – don’t skimp on sleep as the better rested you are, the better equipped you’ll be to tackle your job responsibilities and cope with workplace stress.

The CIPP ran a quick poll at the beginning of the year asking what priority level your business, or the business you work for, gives to supporting work-related stress. Of the 453 responses we received there was a pretty even split over the answers given.

22% stated that their business gives no priority to supporting work-related stress and 25% said it gives low priority. With this accounting for almost half of respondents, employees certainly need to be taking action themselves. However, on a more positive note the highest number of respondents (27%) said that their business gives medium priority to supporting work-related stress and following close behind, 26% of businesses give high priority. It is encouraging to see that there are many businesses out there appreciating the benefit of supporting work-related stress but given the aforementioned number of lost working days, there is certainly more for us all to do.


Please do bear in mind that our polls are just a snapshot in time, a one question poll which does limit the responses and does not cater for follow up. However, results can help provide an indication of a trend in a certain area, or where there is further work to do around raising awareness on a particular issue, and also qualifying where further research may be required.