Work stress will increase in the next 20 years: report


Stress created by social developments such as staff shortages and looking after ageing relatives will increase in the next 20 years and measures must be taken to prevent this, research institute TNO and public health institute RIVM have said in their latest report.

Pressure at work caused by unwanted behaviour from superiors or colleagues also contributes to stress, as do an unhealthy lifestyle and events such as a death or divorce.

People who experience stress for longer periods will eventually fall ill and will be unable to work, the report said, adding that more time to recuperate from the pressures of work and more opportunities for training and development may prevent the build-up.

There are eight stress-related developments which pose a risk for workers, TNO said, including an ageing working population, the combination of work and care, staff shortages, flexible contracts, working for online platforms, artificial intelligence, hybrid working, and pressure to perform.

Most are expected to impact workers negatively and increase stress, resulting in more people being unable to do their jobs, the report said.

Hybrid working practices, if they promote a healthy life-work balance,  may help people cope better with stress but all eight are “interconnected” and demand an integrated approach, the researchers said.

In the last year the number of people who were ill for a prolonged period because of work-related stress grew by 11%, figures from work health and safety services ArboNed and HumanCapitalCare have shown. People spend an average of 240 days recuperating and costs to business come to an average of €350 a day.

Education, healthcare and public service workers are most likely to take time off for stress and companies with more to 250 workers have more cases of stress-related absences than small companies.

Employers need to intervene sooner rather than later, Arboned medical director Redmer van Wijngaarden said. “We need to start the conversation now so we can prevent problems later,” het told broadcaster NOS.

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