3 in 5 South Africans state that they experience work-related stress – are employers doing enough?

Concerns over workload and the type of work are the most common triggers of workplace stress.

Three in five employees have stated that their mental health has declined this year due to work-related stress.

Despite South African employers spending millions on wellness initiatives every year, increasing their spend by (20%) since the pandemic, (55%) of professionals still believe that their employer is not doing enough to combat stress in the workplace.

Professionals at risk

According to a recent poll of 2 000 people conducted by recruitment firm Robert Walters, (63%) of professionals said had suffered from some form of workplace-related stress. This was defined as stress symptoms experienced more than 3 times for 7 or more consecutive days.

When asked how often they felt this way, (41%) replied “very often”, with a further (22%) saying “somewhat often”, and 28% identified it as happening “sometimes”.

Only (9%) said they had not experienced any form of recurring stress in the workplace this year.

The causes

When asked about what causes workplace stress, concerns over workload and the type of work were the most common triggers (35%).

These were followed by heightened pressure from management (24%), company culture and job culture (23%) as well as colleague competitiveness (18%).

Whose responsibility is it?

When asked whose responsibility it was to manage workplace stress 42% of the professionals surveyed said it was down to HR and senior leaders, followed by line managers (32%), with only a fraction (21%) believing that it was down to the individual and (4%) saying colleagues should be responsible for managing workplace stress.

However, less than 13% of professionals feel that employers are doing enough, and a further 31% feel that although “some” efforts have been made, these are are lacking. A staggering 56% of those surveyed said employers weren’t doing enough.

Samantha-Jane Gravett, director of Robert Walters Africa, said, “Irrespective of companies spending 20% more on employee wellness initiatives and benefits every year, depending on the size of the business, our survey indicates they may only be applying a Band-Aid.”

“Employers must find the balance between not breaking the bank or piling pressure on to managers to solve workplace stress, and rather be more proactive and listen to the needs of their employees, ie, conducting internal and anonymous surveys with employees will ascertain greater insights into where a business may need to focus on as this is not as simple as a one size fits all.”

Causes and effects

Long working hours, heavy workloads, tight deadlines, unclear job expectations, job insecurity, and conflicts with colleagues or supervisors are all factors which contribute towards workplace stress.

If not addressed, workplace stress can snowball into higher turnover rates, levels of employee burnout, absenteeism, and lower productivity levels.

Almost a quarter of professionals (21%) stated that their work was of low quality, and they focussed on high output instead because of unrealistic workloads.

Gravett said: “Workplace stress is something everyone in a business has a hand in creating – however, it is down to senior leaders and HR to set the tone for how it is managed to avoid employee burnout.

“Simple interventions such as making sure workloads are manageable, setting realistic deadlines and making sure employees have access to support, safe spaces and relevant resources, such as mental health programmes, can all help to alleviate pressure in the workplace as well as professionals’ day-to-day work life.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.