Employees 'failing to cope with work stress'

Alcohol more popular coping mechanism than exercise

UK workers are more stressed, working longer hours and taking fewer holidays as a result of the economic downturn, according to a survey by Nuffield Health.

The poll of 1,500 employees found that 52% said they feel more stressed since the beginning of the downturn, while 41% feel more pressure at work and 23% are working longer hours.

Nuffield Health says even more worrying than these findings are the methods people are using to cope with stress, with 25% using alcohol compared to 23% who go to the gym or exercise outdoors.

The research also shows that 23% of respondents feel stressed about work even when they are out of the office, while 14% are having to work weekends and 12% are taking less holiday entitlement.

Nuffield's research supports the findings from a recent study of civil servants by researchers at the University of Nottingham and the University of Ulster which found that one in four workers suffers work-related stress in times of recession. That study found that the number of staff taking time off due to job stress leaps 25% during economic downturns, while total time due to work-related stress increases by more than a third during a slump.

Marcus Powell, managing director of corporate wellbeing at Nuffield Health, said: “This survey provides an interesting insight into people’s work and home lives since the beginning of the economic downturn.  It shows people are feeling more stressed, often caused by work, and have less time for their loved ones.  

“More worryingly, a quarter of those surveyed said they are using alcohol to cope with work stress. We would encourage every worker to think about how they can improve their wellbeing at work and at home.”

The figures also show a rise in the number of people working unpaid overtime, with 45% saying they were doing more since the economic downturn, while more than a quarter said that their poor work/life balance was having a negative impact on their partner.

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