Figures 'fail to tell the suffering of stressed workers'
Employers have been warned to manage the pressure that their staff are under or to face having more of their employees on sick leave.
The Institution of Occupational Health and Safety (Iosh) cited Health and Safety Executive figures which indicated that 12.8 million working days were lost to stress, anxiety and depression in 2004-5.
However, even these figures "fail to tell the suffering of the individuals involved", said president of Iosh, Lisa Fowlie.
Ms Fowlie said: "Challenge is a key ingredient for any healthy workplace because meeting a challenge helps people feel relaxed and satisfied.
"Challenge is a good thing, but it does bring with it pressure. When pressure becomes excessive or harmful, it can lead to stress, which is a person's reaction to their circumstances."
She added that small changes could help to reduce pressure at work, including allowing more flexible working hours, ensuring staff have a sympathetic ear or changing the annual leave year to start on each worker's birthday and avoid the last minute rush.