Employers need to recognise and understand the price of wrongly pressurising their staff in the workplace, it has been claimed.
New president of the Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (Iosh), Lise Fowlie, said that stress was still widely misunderstood as being just a psychological problem.
Speaking at the Iosh annual dinner in Manchester, she said that people needed to understand that the condition had physical and behavioural effects as well and stated that managers would find it difficult to detect it if they did not recognise the symptoms.
She said: "I want employers to start thinking that 'pressure management prevents stress' and to remember, that stress isn’t only affecting the health of one person and their personal productivity, but it can also affect those around them – their work colleagues, their family and their friends."
Minor adjustments were often enough to significantly reduce stress, she added, such as ensuring staff have a sympathetic ear and allowing more flexibility in working hours and more family-friendly practices.
She also advised that employers could change annual leave to run with employees' dates of birth so that workers would not try to use it up at the same time at the end of the year.
Iosh would be launching an occupational health toolkit at their conference in March, she said, which would give health and safety practitioners an extra tool in tackling stress.