Last reviewed 4 November 2021

To mark International Stress Awareness Week 2021 (which runs until 5 November), the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) carried out a poll asking: “What do you see as the one main cause of stress in the workplace?”

Analysis of 244 anonymous responses to the survey showed that the overriding message from workers emerging from the difficulties of the pandemic was that they feel overworked, understaffed and under pressure.

Among the specific causes of stress, respondents cited excessive workload, unrealistic time pressures and unattainable targets as well as long hours, lack of staff and an “always on” culture intensified by homeworking.

One respondent said: “It feels like everyone is squeezed at the moment, with no sign of the work easing. We are struggling to fill vacancies that will help lighten the load.” Another spoke about the pressure of working to cover many different activities in a workplace which is still reorganising and recovering from Covid.

Poor leadership also came in for heavy criticism with inadequate communication, a negative work culture, little recognition by management and lack of support mentioned by many of those complaining of felling stressed.

As one put it: “Irrational senior management who don’t understand your roles or the time and resources required to complete work.”

IOSH Research Programme Lead, Dr Karen Michell, has written guidance on support needed to tackle stress, burnout and moral injury. This can be found here.