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World – Attitudes to workplace stress vary

31 October 2013

A survey by Antal International, of more than 17,000 companies in the client base of global recruiter, has highlighted the radically different approaches to workplace stress in key employment markets around the world.

The research suggested that in the UK stress is seen as a legitimate and increasingly prevalent condition that can have a wholly negative impact on employees both physically and mentally. In the past few years, the subject has gained a large amount of coverage in the national press, in part due to high profile victims in the banking industry. However, overall, the UK is generally believed to be well tuned with identifying, handling and treating stress in the workplace.

The majority of respondents in Germany believed that stress is still seen as a difficult subject and is often regarded as an ‘easy way out’ of working. Generally it’s felt that attitudes towards the condition are improving, and employees are no longer regarded as weak for flagging up the issue. The subject was broached in the recent general election and the idea of creating stress related work programs was discussed, as well as an attempt to remove the remaining stigma around the topic.

Whilst there appears to be recognition of workplace stress as a condition in India, it is mainly seen as a positive influence and one that can motivate workers. Employees are taught that the key to avoiding stress is organisation and good time-keeping, and if these are not managed effectively then the condition can take hold.

In China stress isn’t generally seen as a legitimate medical concern. Employees work hard to be financially rewarded and often to support their extended families, and due to different workplace cultures the topic of stress is rarely raised with managers. The treatment for stress is usually focused around increasing salaries, providing good benefits, and team bonding events which raise morale. 

Tony Goodwin, Chairman and founder of Antal, commented on the findings, “What this analysis tells us is that there’s a very wide range of attitudes towards workplace stress across the globe. In an ever shrinking world, we should perhaps ask whether countries with a more robust workforce will be able to deal with the issues arising from work/life balance more effectively than their Western counterparts.”

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