Stress on the rise in New Zealands big businesses

Monday , 31 August 2015 by Aimee Bourke

Stress levels in big businesses are on the rise, bucking a nationwide trend where 6/10 businesses have seen stress stay roughly the same.

This is just one of the key findings of the 2015 Wellness in the Workplace survey - a joint study undertaken by the country’s largest health insurer Southern Cross Health Society and New Zealand’s largest advocacy group for enterprise BusinessNZ.

The nationwide study of 113 employers (encompassing 116,000 employees) was carried out between March – June 2015 with the aim of benchmarking workplace trends.

The survey showed that:

  • Overall, 28.6% of businesses reported an increase in stress levels, while 14.3% reported a decrease. 57.1% saw stress levels stay the same.
  • For those with 50+ staff, the proportion indicating general stress levels increased stood at 35.6%, compared with 23.3% for those with fewer than 50 staff.
  • The top five reasons given for stress and anxiety increasing were general workload, relationship issues, long hours, pressure to meet targets and financial concerns
  • Nine out of ten businesses believe wellness has an impact on productivity

Phil O’Reilly, BusinessNZ Chief Executive, says the findings should act as a wakeup call for business without wellness plans in place.

“This survey has shown that the stress in the workplace is a critical issue to address. Businesses need to try and mitigate this to get the most out of their workforce and give their workers the best environment possible to be productive.”

Southern Cross Health Society Chief Executive Peter Tynan says as external factors can greatly impact professional performance, businesses should aim to foster a culture that promotes a positive work life balance.

“High levels of stress tend to lead to health issues in the long run. It takes time and effort to train and develop staff, so looking after them and providing a healthy workplace is just good business practice.

”Options to manage stress like flexible hours, employee assistance programmes, health checks, devices that allow staff to work from home, and financial literacy seminars are all good options to consider,” says Tynan.

The full Wellness in the Workplace 2015 survey can be found at Wellness in the Workplace Survey Report 2015