Stressed out of work

October 01, 1996

British managers are experiencing higher levels of stress than ever before and it is affecting their morale, health, work effectiveness and relationships at home. A survey of nearly 1,100 members of the Institute of Managers, published on September 16, found eight in ten reporting that their stress levels had risen over the past year, citing overwork, unpaid overtime and unreasonable deadlines. A third of women report being bullied at work, while 45% of men say they do not spend enough time with their children. The report, Are Managers Under Stress? was sponsored by Lane Health Products. An estimated 270,000 people take time off work each day because of stress, at a cost of ?7 billion annual in sick pay, lost production and increased NHS costs. Contact Karen Charlesworth, IM, on 0171 497 0580


The Department of Health is promoting two awards scheme as part of its Health of the Nation initiative. The Mental Health Awards, a new scheme sponsored Lilly Psychiatry, seek to recognise projects which help meet targets for mental illness. Open to private, voluntary or statutory services which improve the health and social functioning of mentally ill people or reduce suicide rates. The second scheme is the three year old Health Alliance Awards, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. These highlight effective partnerships between the sectors in any of the five target areas, coronary heart disease and stroke, cancers, mental health, HIV/AIDS and accidents. Nominations for both schemes close during October. Contact Asif Ahmed, Mental Health Awards, on 0191 273 6666 or Issie Pate, Health Alliance Awards Secretariat, on 0171 413 4109


The need for extra resources in the national health service is exaggerated and the priority should be public health through investment in housing and education. The findings come from left-of-centre think-tank, IPPR, in a report Can We Afford the NHS?, issued on September 4. This argues that new technologies in medicine should save money and increase efficiency in some areas, while costing more in others. The demographic changes causing a more elderly population are exaggerated, as older people are not significantly more ill nor ill for longer periods. Contact Jo Lenaghan, IPPR, on 0171 470 6100


A new ?300,000 diabetes research laboratory at the University of Aberdeen was officially opened in September by James Niedel, research and development director at Glaxo Wellcome which funded the project. The Glaxo Welcome Diabetes Laboratory, part of a ?25 million research centre, will research the disease, the third most common in Britain, affecting three people in a hundred. Contact Corinne Gordon, Glaxo Wellcome, on 0171 493 4060


Exactly a year ago, Community Affairs Briefing decried the clamour that had greeted publication of the Healthcare 2000 report. That study, funded by a group of 32 pharmaceutical companies, predicted a crisis in NHS funding and called for alternative, private, funding mechanisms to be explored. The politicians ran for cover and little more was heard.

But the questions about ill health remain: what are the costs, what are the causes, and who should share in responsibility? Last year the government’s chief medical officer said stress is the second most common cause of absence from work and put the cost of work-related ill health including accidents at ?11 billion. In 1993, the CBI said mental ill health costed companies ?4 billion.

Is this an issue for line management in tackling health and safety? Or for public affairs in influencing public spending priorities? Or community affairs, too often stereotyped as the “good works” part of the company? In forward thinking companies, all three should be involved. For community affairs managers, perhaps in need of business arguments to sustain budgets, the lesson is to understand the real costs of ill health to the company and see if your community programme can help to reduce them.

Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 30 – October, 1996