Stress – No. 1 long term sickness absence cause in UK workforce

StressSeveral news articles yesterday referenced the findings by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) which show that, “… stress has become the main cause of long-term sickness absence for the first time across the British workforce”. Two main articles appear in The Telegraph as well as The Guardian. The Guardian article states:

“Worries about job losses have helped stress become the most common cause of long-term sick leave in Britain, according to a report that underlines the pressures on workers in a deteriorating labour market.

Stress has overtaken other reasons for long-term absence such as repetitive strain injury and medical conditions such as cancer.”

The article continues:

“The report highlights the strong links between job security and stress levels, with employers that are planning redundancies most likely to see a rise in mental health problems among staff.”

This is certainly to be expected given the current challenging economic times that we live in. I think the main disconnect in these articles about stress is that they infer that stress is a condition on its own, when stress in actual fact can lead to people being more susceptible to injuries and illnesses including Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) and many other health related conditions and, as such, we may not really have seen the full impact of stress on the British workforce.

Indeed I said as much in my article (from Dec. 2008) about it in the last major economic downturn in 2008 titled “RSI potential in these stressful economic times“.

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