Bosses Take the Strain in Battle against Stress; CAREERSexit

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), May 26, 1996 | Go to article overview

Bosses Take the Strain in Battle against Stress; CAREERSexit


Byline: ELAINE CAVANAGH

FROM industry to banking and from the media to Whitehall, stress is afflicting thousands of careers.

Suffering staff used to be left to struggle on alone or seek help from their GP.

Now a growing number of major companies, including Whitbread, Unilever, PepsiCo and Ford, recognise that stress is also their problem and have set up counselling services to help

employees.

And the British Medical Association

has launched a 24-hour telephone counselling service after a survey revealed that more than 90% of doctors suffer stress.

Sandra Ridley, counselling services manager of the group that runs the service, CareAssist, of Hinckley, Leicestershire, says: `Doctors are under pressure from NHS reforms and increased patient demand.'

In a study by Ashridge Management College at Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, 79% of managers said they were stressed, compared with 77% in 1995. Conflict between work and being a good parent affected 64%, and 62% worried about learning new skills.

Alan Wise, a consultant in stress management with Carewell Medical Centre in Harrow, North London, says: `As companies slim down, employees have to get used to new equipment and methods of working. That can be especially difficult for older people.'

He is sure more companies will use psychologists to ease the problem. He says: `They are realising that stress causes absenteeism.'

Sue Cartwright, senior research fellow in organisational psychology at Manchester University, believes that stress is worse for staff lower down in an organisation. Often they carry responsibility without the power to make decisions.

Employers usually choose either in-house

counselling or contracting out to an agency that runs an Employee Assistance Programme, an EAP. They offer a range of services, including telephone help-lines and counselling sessions. …

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