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Home > News > May 2004 > 11-May-2004

Stress epidemic in Britain’s workforce as job demands expand

Britain’s workers are paying a high price with their health for being under-qualified to handle the demands of their 21st Century careers.

According to new research by City & Guilds nearly half (43 per cent) of workers* suffer from work-related stress and of these 67 per cent blame their heavy workload and 12 per cent state that the added pressure is due to being handed extra responsibilities with no appropriate training.

Feeling out of their depth, more than one in 10 employees (13 per cent) have taken time off sick as a result of work-related stress, with 55 per cent experiencing the frustration of sleepless nights, one fifth (21 per cent) battling with depression and a tenth suffering loss of libido.

Keen to reclaim their quality of life, a quarter (24 per cent) even state that they would take a pay cut if it meant less stress.

But it’s not just employees who are affected by lack of training. There are also repercussions for businesses that fail to address their employees’ training needs – a sixth of the workers questioned (16 per cent) have made a wrong decision that has cost their company financially because of lack of training and a further one in 12 (eight per cent) have mishandled budgets losing their employers money.

Chris Humphries, Director General, City & Guilds, said: "Employers now demand greater flexibility from their workforce and staff are required to possess a diverse range of skills. It’s no longer enough to be an IT expert, employees today must also possess management skills, be able to handle budgets and offer excellent customer service. This places huge pressure on staff and it’s vital that companies invest in training to ensure that their employees are fully prepared for the additional responsibilities they face."

Despite more than two thirds of workers (65 per cent) stating that work-related training would help them to cope better with their jobs, 15 per cent of the respondents questioned said that they hadn’t received any training directly related to their role.

And it would seem that employers are particularly neglecting to meet the training needs of their younger members of staff as the City & Guilds research found that 83 per cent of those under 30 (compared to the average 55 per cent) believe they would cope better with their job if they were provided with work-related training.

Gary Ince, Chief Executive of the Institute of Leadership and Management said: "Companies need to invest in their staff from the bottom up – the most junior members of staff should receive training as should the middle managers and senior veterans. Employees will be more selective about the companies they decide to join and to compete businesses will have to offer good training packages."

*1054 employees were questioned – 519 in academic professions and 535 in vocational occupations.

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