Research conducted for Robert Half investigated the stress levels among workers in eight Western countries, and then ranked them out of 100, where 0 is impossibly stressed and 100 is so relaxed, you’re probably dead.
While there wasn’t a huge amount of difference on the scale between the countries, Australian workers ranked the second least stressed with an overall score of 52.4 – behind The Netherlands which scored 55.9.
Also above the 50 mark were the UK (52.0) and the US (51.5).
Somewhat surprisingly, it was the workers in Europe that fell below the 50 mark to languish in stressed territory.
Belgians recorded a score of 48.9, the French 47.7 and the Germans ranked poorest at 47.6. Canadians were also found to be more stressed than their colleagues south of the border, scoring 48.8.
Women, young people most stressed of all
Breaking down the figures for Australians, Robert Half concluded that the most stressed workers are likely to be younger women.
Those aged 18-34 were the most stressed, with a ranking of 51.5, while women were noticeably more stressed than men (50.1 compared with 54.6 for men).
Another indicator of stress was income, with those earning an annual salary of $150,000 or more much more stressed than all other pay bands. Those earning between $50,000 and $74,999 were found to be the least stressed.
And unsurprisingly, certain industries are also much more likely to be high-pressure than others.
If you’re looking for a lower stress environment, you should avoid the healthcare, human resources and manufacturing sectors. Less stressed workplaces, according to the research, can be found in the accounting, administration and IT sectors.
De-stressing your workforce
A separate study of 1,000 individuals in June this year found that self-employed Australians are markedly less stressed and more satisfied than the people they employ.
“Stress in the workplace is sometimes unavoidable with many subtle yet insidious contributors. Stressed out employees not only negatively affect company performance, but can also impact overall team morale,” said Andrew Morris, director of Robert Half Australia.
“Stress can lead to ‘burn out’ which in turn can contribute to high employee turnover, absenteeism and lost productivity.
“Eliminating all work-related stress in the office may not be possible, but taking proactive steps to reduce it can improve staff performance, engagement and overall workplace happiness.”
Mr Morris said that the most successful businesses proactively monitor and try to manage stress levels among their workforce, which can include regular employee feedback opportunities and increasing the number of contractor or temporary workers to help manage known or sudden period of high workload.
Company-sponsored sabbaticals or getaways and social activities are another option for helping staff to interact outside of the confines of the workplace, while some businesses also offer increased sick leave allowances to allow their workers to take downtime to de-stress.