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Stress: ’21st Century Equivalent of the Black Death?’

By Periscope @periscopepost
Stress: ’21st century equivalent of the Black Death?’

Photo credit: Stuartpilbrow,

Stress is now the most common cause of long-term absence from work, according to a new report. The survey, from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), also revealed that the prospect of redundancies increases the instance of mental health issues among employees.

The Black Death. In typically restrained style, The Daily Mail reported that stress is akin to a fatal plague. Quoting stress expert Professor Cooper, Becky Barrow wrote that “stress is the 21st century equivalent of the Black Death.” The Black Death is estimated to have killed around 40% of Europe’s population in the fourteenth century. Feeling stressed yet?

“Stress is a particular challenge in the public sector where the sheer amount of major change and restructuring would appear to be the root cause,” said Dr Jill Miller, CIPD adviser.

Stress-related absence dogs the public sector. According to the CIPD, stress-related absence has shown a particular increase in public sector organisations. In The Telegraph Louisa Peacock called for the public sector “to think radically and creatively about how to drive down Britain’s absence bill.” Peacock also argued that the public sector has a wealth of taxpayer-funded “fancy wellbeing schemes and health programmes” that are apparently not working.

(Stress-related) presenteeism on the rise. The CIPD report also warned that there is a new culture of “presenteeism”, with unwell employees still coming into the office for fear being earmarked for redundancy. Dave Waller pointed out the flaw in this at Management Today: “The last thing anyone wants when they’re busy working is to be struck off themselves because someone else has struggled into the office and spread their germs around”, he wrote. What’s more, another recent survey found that only half of respondents used their full annual holiday entitlement.

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