Workers 'are more stressed and worried about keeping their jobs than ever before'

  • A quarter of workers say they live in fear of losing their jobs
  • New technology means workers feel like they never stop working

By Becky Barrow


Workers are more stressed, more under pressure and more worried about keeping their job than at any time since records more than 25 years ago, a damning study revealed yesterday.

The report, from the Government-backed UK Commission for Employment and Skills, lifts the lid on the ‘intensification’ of work hitting millions of people.

Starting in 1986, the poll has taken place every six years - and the latest findings for 2012, published yesterday, show workers have never had such a tough time.

A record high of workers feel they ¿work under the pressure of tight deadlines¿ all day then have to respond to emails at night

Stress: A record high of workers feel they ¿work under the pressure of tight deadlines¿ all day then have to respond to emails at night

It found a record 40 per cent of workers say they are required to work ‘at very high speeds’ for at least three-quarters ‘or more’ of their working life.

Nearly 60 per cent - another record high - said they ‘work under the pressure of tight deadlines’ for the vast majority of their working day.

And the fear of losing their job has never been higher. One in four workers are ‘afraid of losing their job and becoming unemployed’, which is higher than in any previous downturn.


The report, which represents one of the most significant investigations into Britain’s working culture, says technology is largely to blame.

For example, a worker with a BlackBerry can be contacted by email or called at any time, whether or not they have just left the office, are on holiday, enjoying the weekend or asleep.

It warned ‘increased competitiveness brought on by the severity of the recession and rising levels of unemployment’ have also had an impact.

Nearly 60 per cent of workers say they ¿work under the pressure of tight deadlines¿ all day

Frazzled: Nearly 60 per cent of workers say they ¿work under the pressure of tight deadlines¿ all day

It said: ‘These may have changed the balance of power between employers and employees.’
The commission insisted ‘downsizing’, which is a fall in the staff numbers as a result of redundancies, is not a culprit, although it does fuel a ‘greater fear’ at work.

Professor Francis Green, from the Institute of Education, the author of the report, said: ‘New technologies enable employees to work more constantly, closing up the gaps in the working day, extending it to the journey home.’

He said workers can either ‘self-drive’ themselves or bosses can take advantage of the ‘new possibilities’, or a combination of the two.

Professor Cary Cooper, from the Lancaster University Management School, said technology has changed workers’ lives.

Thanks to new technology workers feel as though the never properly leave the office

Switching off: Thanks to new technology workers feel as though the never properly leave the office

He said: ‘People demand an immediate response. In the old days, you could divide up your work into piles.

‘A pile that need to be dealt with today, another pile that you could leave for a few days and another pile that you could leave for a few weeks. Now we are bombarded by emails.’

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said: ‘The climate of fear that exists in far too many workplaces is stressful for staff and bad for the economy too.

‘Job insecurity and workload pressures often make people less productive and can push them out of work altogether through stress and ill-health.’

The comments below have not been moderated.

" Max, London, United Kingdom, 21/5/2013 7:12 The unions are still there but do nothing while still getting their fees my guess is the big private firms have them in their pockets i am with Unison and believe me they are useless more or less tell you to just sit back and take what your Employer throws at you." - Kazza, Sunderland, 21/5/2013 8:35--- I partly agree with you, but realistically the unions have been severely restricted and neutered. For instance they are no longer able to take coordinated and united action under the laws that now ban flying pickets and secondary action (ie sympathy strikes) - which is still legal and lawful in most of the rest of Europe - so much for living in a free country. If they had another miners strike now they would probably be using the new secret courts that they have set up in the UK. For people who condemn modern trade unions, they should look at their history, to a time when some union militants were using guns and bombs to further their aims.

Click to rate     Rating   3

It is a bosses dream would be to think workers will do more for less and throw all forms of morality out the window in the name of profit, and "To get ahead"!

Click to rate     Rating   6

Workplace stress is necessary to ensure workers - particularly low-paid workers - are kept on their toes. If workers get complacent they may be tempted to become lazy, or even to start demanding more rights (better pay, better conditions, a safe working environment etc). If we do not keep workers under constant threat of redundancy we will lose our competitive edge. That's why more needs to be done, such as abolishing the minimum wage (to remove an artificial floor to wages that restricts competition), the abolition of bank holidays, scrapping of all paid leave, and the right for all employers to instantly dismiss any member of staff at any time without recourse to appeal to tribunals. Oh, and ban trade unions too. - William, Denton, United Kingdom, 21/5/2013 13:01 What an utterly repugnant point of view to take, I take it you're in a secure, well paid management position

Click to rate     Rating   21

OK I was working for 10-years at Howdens Joinery in Aylesbury but when I hit 66-years old I was out of the door by our new unpleasant manager. I was still in good health. No probs with that at all. I was quite capable of doing my job.

Click to rate     Rating   9

Part of the trouble is this misconception that everything has to be done yesterday and the world will stop turning if it isn't done.

Click to rate     Rating   27

Why are people red-arrowing Jones, who works freelance? I do too - it's great. I could never work in an office again - it's too inefficient.

Click to rate     Rating   2

If people are put into too much of stress due to insecurity,lower wages and high cost of living, most opeople will have their health affected sooner or later.End of the day it will the goverment which meets the medical cost arising.So,there is no escape root forthe government either way.

Click to rate     Rating   9

I leave my house for work at 7:30am and do not return until at least 9:30pm. And still I am expected to do more at work. I actually went to the legnths of getting a second phone so I could give that number to my manager. That way I can leave it at home when I eventually get outside to socialise!

Click to rate     Rating   18

Unfortunately, people are getting themselves into a no win situation by working all hours. Working all hours leads to presenteeism. People work excessively long hours leading to stress and ill health which in turn means they end up off work sick anyway leading to absenteeism and then their employers find a way to manage them out the door if they stay off too long. People who work excessively long hours like this are also more prone to making errors in their work and this in turn leads to capability issues and gives an employer another reason to get rid of them. We are now being made to feel grateful to have a job as employers know that they can find someone else to replace you and this present government is now making it easier for employers to sack staff. We are allowing employers to get free labour thus effectively working for less money. We are becoming a nation to afraid to speak up for our rights because our unions no longer have the balls or the powers to help

Click to rate     Rating   51

try working in a call centre for Lloyds then you will know about stress at work! - sten, Uk, 21/5/2013 7:07 - Tell me about it. Ive been there too. Ive left now as they treated me (and others) disgustingly and it made me ill. Infact I cant believe such a big company can get away with it. Lloyds are nothing but bullies, they are vile to work for.

Click to rate     Rating   54

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