UK,
19
January
2016

Women show more signs of stress as a result of work than men

Summary

• Work is the most stressful aspect of life, according to both men and women

• However, women are more likely to suffer physical symptoms as a result of workplace stress

• Research reinforces ‘men don’t cry’ stereotype - only 10% of men admit to tears as a result of stress at work, compared to 43% of women

• Sleep deprivation is biggest tell-tale sign of stress for both sexes

Women and men cope with stress in markedly different ways according to new research from Simplyhealth and YouGov. While work is identified as the biggest contributor to stress across all aspects of life for both men and women, the research shows women are far more likely to suffer from the physical symptoms of workplace stress.

Sleep deprivation is revealed as the biggest tell-tale sign of stress, with over half of UK employees (53 per cent) suffering from disturbed sleep as a result of pressures at work. However, this figure is significantly higher amongst women (59 per cent), compared to 47 per cent in men. Women are also far more likely to struggle with constant worrying as a result of stress at work, than men (49 per cent vs. 35 per cent).

In fact, women were considerably more likely to suffer from most of the symptoms outlined in the research, including, loss of appetite, palpitations, dizziness and breaking into tears. One in three adults admits to an aggressive outbreak as a result of pressures at work.

Table 1: Reactions to workplace stress

 

Women %

Men %

Total %

Disturbed Sleep

59

47

53

Constant Worrying

49

35

42

Breaking into Tears

43

10

26

Difficulty Concentrating

37

32

34

Temper Outbursts

30

31

30

Racing Thoughts

27

22

24

Excessive Eating

22

17

20

Loss of Appetite

21

18

20

Palpitations

18

11

15

Panic Attack

16

13

14

Dizziness

15

10

12

The cumulative effect of longer hours and increasing workloads is the biggest pressure employees face, closely followed by not feeling valued and financial worries. Again women appear to struggle with these issues more than men, with 24 per cent of women not feeling valued compared to 16 per cent of men. The issue of not feeling valued peaks at 35% amongst lower income households earning less than £40,000, compared to 27% of people with a household income of over £60,000.

When it comes to raising concerns, women aged 40 – 54 are more likely to report concerns around job security and redundancy. However, the research finds that employees across the board are unlikely to discuss workplace stress or anxiety with someone more senior. Similarly only 32% of people feel their work would be supportive if they had to take time off as a result of stress. The fact that over half (56 per cent) of the UK workforce believe talking to senior management about a mental health issue would inhibit their career prospects, may go some way to explaining people’s reluctance.

Romana Abdin, Chief Executive, Simplyhealth
These findings show that stress at work is a serious concern, with too many people suffering from disturbed sleep, constant worry and even panic attacks. Furthermore, it’s still seen as a taboo subject with employees and employers failing to confront the issue.

Organisations rely on having a happy and productive workforce so encouraging an open environment where employees feel confident to raise any concerns is far better for everyone in the long run.
Romana Abdin, Chief Executive, Simplyhealth
Methodology

For the Simplyhealth/YouGov Everyday Health Tracker, YouGov commissioned a survey among its online panel between 26 – 30 October 2015, drawing on a nationally representative sample of 2,019 UK adults aged 18+.

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