Many UK workers more stressed since lockdown ended, poll shows

Experts urge firms to look out for early warning signs as survey finds more than a third of employees report stress levels have increased since July

More than a third of UK workers have felt more stressed since lockdown restrictions eased earlier this year, with many saying they are not ready to return to work, a poll has found.

The survey of 2,000 people, conducted by Reassured, found 37 per cent of respondents reported higher levels of stress since coronavirus rules started to relax in July this year.

Similarly, 21 per cent reported that they were not ready to go back to ‘normal life’, including returning to the office.

Ongoing uncertainty around the pandemic was one of the most commonly cited causes of concern, raised by 24 per cent of those polled, with many also worried about their own health (18 per cent), their finances (18 per cent) and commuting (11 per cent).

The survey found that more than one in 10 people (14 per cent) admitted that leaving the house was still distressing for them, with the same proportion saying it was something that left them feeling pressured and hassled.

Commenting on the findings, Kelly Feehan, services director at CABA, said that while it was normal to feel “short infrequent bursts” of stress at work, increasingly people are feeling stressed for extended periods of the day.

Get more HR and employment law news like this delivered straight to your inbox every day – sign up to People Management’s PM Daily newsletter

“For some, a degree of pressure can be motivating and can help cross items off the to-do list, but if these levels are excessive, we risk reaching a stress overload or even burnout, and that’s bad news for our health,” said Feehan, adding that too much stress can impair cognitive performance and contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.

“So, while a certain amount of pressure and stress may be part and parcel of modern life, it’s important to keep an eye out for the early warning signs that things are getting too much,” said Feehan.

Steve Marshall, CEO of Reassured, added that despite the summer being largely free of coronavirus restrictions, the findings showed that “many across the UK are still dealing with high levels of stress”.

“The uncertainty surrounding the pandemic is still a major cause for concern, and those struggling the most are parents with young children, and adults aged 25 to 34,” Marshall said.