A study by Morneau Shepell, released Jan. 29, has found that 35 per cent of employees report being more stressed now from work than they were five years ago. Thirty-six per cent says personal issues are stressing them more than five years ago.
In the workplace, 27 per cent of employees rated their stress from work, over the last six months, “as high to extreme”, while 34 per cent of people managers reported feeling the same way.
The research revealed that a growing feeling of workplace isolation is a main contributor to stress. Morneau Shepell describes this isolation as “the state of feeling alone and without friends, support or help.” Sixty-four per cent of employees and 73 per cent of managers who reported a high level of workplace isolation were more likely to say they also have a high level of workplace stress, says the study.
About one quarter of employees and managers reporting increased feelings of isolation at work when compared to five years ago.
"In recent years, organizations have evolved to prioritize employee well-being and management of workplace stress, yet reports of stress continue to increase," said Stephen Liptrap, president and chief executive officer. "This is cause for concern as stress is now contributing to a decline in employees' physical and mental well-being. In addition to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, we found that employees suffering from high levels of workplace stress are also more likely to suffer from issues such as physical pain and sleep troubles."
Sense of stigma has declined
Despite the increase in workplace stress, the research found the sense of stigma associated with mental health issues has declined. This finding demonstrates “an improvement in normalizing conversation around the issue,” says Morneau Shepell.
Also on the positive side, 68 per cent of employees stated that their workplace has a positive impact on their personal mental health. Morneau Shepell’s research found that a contributing factor is an organization's recognition of employees. Employees and managers who do not feel recognized or valued by their organization are significantly more likely to report high levels of workplace stress, compared to those who do feel they are recognized.
"Organizations are beginning to recognize that prioritizing mental health support has a positive impact on their bottom line," said Paula Allen, vice president, research and integrative solutions. "A mentally healthy workplace goes hand-in-hand with a productive one. We found that to be successful, there are a number of emotional and organizational factors contributing to positive mental health in the workplace, including freedom from harassment, positive relationships and control over an employees' day-to-day job and workload."