03/04/2005

Health, social services and education sectors most at risk of stress

While work intensification may be levelling off, stress-related outcomes ­ such
as burnout, fatigue, or back problems ­ are still on the increase, according to
the latest topic report from the Foundation's European Working Conditions
Observatory.

The report attempts to assess the scale and prevalence of work-related stress
in a sample of seven Member States, and to analyse the role of contributing
factors such as lack of job control, job insecurity, lack of social support at
work and changing work organisation patterns (lean production, just in time
management). It reveals that the health, social services and education sectors
are most at risk of work-related stress. As these sectors employ a significant
majority of women and are large-scale employers, stress tends to affect a
disproportionate number of female workers. Nonetheless, where trend information
is present in the northern European countries, the data indicate an increase in
stress-related outcomes both for men and women.

Putting a price on work-related stress is an exercise fraught with difficulty
but the report cites figures from the German authorities estimating the costs
of absenteeism due to psychological disorders to have been EUR 3 billion in
2001. Work-related stress is one factor behind the large increase in this type
of work absence. Despite the growing costs associated with work-related stress,
the authors point out that little research exists on the effectiveness of
organisational interventions to combat stress.

The issue of work-related stress, including its identification and prevention,
has received increasing attention at national and EU level. The recent
work-related stress agreement negotiated by the EU level social partners shows
that there is a will to establish a framework within which employee and
employer representatives can work together to combat stress at work.

The Foundation's topic report is based on an analysis of data from national
surveys and research information available from seven countries: Denmark,
Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. The European
Working Conditions Observatory currently has a network of national
correspondents covering 12 EU Member States, as well as an EU level
correspondent reporting on working conditions developments. Four new national
correspondents covering UK, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria will join the network
in 2005.

More information


AplusA-online.de - Source: European Working Conditions Observatory