Employers are being encouraged to offer flexible working arrangements to reduce workplace stress, which is believed to be costing the Australian economy $730 million a year in lost productivity.
According to a report by Regus, which surveyed more than 16,000 professionals globally, work-related stress is on the rise.
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Of the 431 Australians surveyed, more than one-third (38%) say their stress levels have been higher in the past year, with the top causes of stress either finance or workplace-related.
Almost half (49%) of the Australian respondents cited personal finance as the top source of stress, while 48% said their job is the main stress factor.
Other workplace-related stress factors include customers (31%) and colleagues (25%).
Stress factors related to home life rated much lower, with only 17% of respondents saying their partner or spouse creates stress for them, while 14% said their children are a cause of stress.
Jacqueline Lehmann, who heads up Regus in Australia, says workplace stress is costing the Australian economy $730 million dollars a year, according to Victorian Government research.
“The heavy tolls of stress falls not only on workers and their families, but also on businesses as they find that their staff underperform, need more sick leave and are less efficient,” she says.
“Businesses that want to help their staff lead more rewarding lives cannot fail to analyse and tackle levels of stress within their organisation.”
Main causes of work-related stress include long hours, heavy workloads, job insecurity and interpersonal conflicts. But according to Lehmann, there is a solution.
“A lot of it comes down to managers – who need to create stress-free environments and enable their teams to be productive,” she says.
“This means making sure employees are in control of their workloads and fostering healthy team relationships, and reducing wasted time such as long commutes.”
Two thirds (66%) of Australian respondents said one way to reduce stress is to give employees more choice and power in how and where they work.
Respondents also believe this is a key method for businesses to save on costs (34%) and help improve productivity (74%).
“Giving employees tools that allow them to work from home more or from locations outside the office, or enabling more suitable hours, can be an effective way to reduce stress,” Lehman says.
“It can also help people be more efficient, and a productive person feels more happy and secure in their job.”
“Through offering staff more freedom in the ways they work, and in turn reducing workplace stress, the benefits are clear for the employee as well as the business.”