Levels of job stress doubled among workers in Ireland between 2010 and 2015, a new study has found.
According to the findings, the highest levels of stress were felt among employees in the health sector, followed by those working in public administration.
The study was carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and was funded by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA). It revealed that job stress among employees doubled from 8% in 2010 to 17% in 2015.
An employee was deemed to be experiencing job stress if they reported feeling stressed at work ‘always' or ‘most of the time', and if they reported stress reactions, such as anxiety, sleep disturbance and general fatigue.
The study noted that job stress is more common among people experiencing high levels of certain workplace demands:
-Emotional demands - this includes employees who have to deal with angry customers/clients and those who have to hide their emotions at work. Those experiencing high levels of emotional demands were 21 times more likely to be stressed than those with the lowest levels
-Time pressure - this includes having to work to tight deadlines or not having enough time to get work done. Those under the most time pressure were 10 times more likely to be stressed than those under the least pressure
-Bullying, harassment, violence, discrimination - those most exposed to these were eight times more likely to be stressed than those least exposed
-Physically demanding work - those who experienced the highest demands were almost twice as likely to be stressed than those with no such demands
-Effort-reward imbalance - this refers to the extent to which workers feel they are underpaid for the work they do. Those who reported the most imbalance were more than four times more likely to be stressed than those who felt adequately rewarded
-Long working hours - those working over 40 hours per week were twice as likely to be stressed than those working 36-40 hours.
The study found that workers were less likely to feel stressed if they felt supported by co-workers, felt that their job was useful or had a feeling of work well done.
Overall, employees in the health sector experienced the highest levels of job stress (18%), followed by public administration (16%) and the manufacturing sector (15%).
The researchers pointed to international studies which show that job stress is linked to poor physical and mental health, and this can have a negative impact on companies as a result of increased absenteeism, increased job turnover and poor morale.
They emphasised the importance of firms having policies in place to deal with job stress.
"Job stress is becoming a more important issue in the Irish workplace as the economy becomes increasingly service based. Employers need to manage these risks to prevent the significant individual and organisational costs of stress-related illness," commented Dr Helen Russell, one of the authors of the research.
The full study can be viewed here