Is Your Job One Of The Most or Least Stressful In The UK?

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Stressed man working on a laptop

Unless you’re one of the lucky few who work in the UK’s cat cafes, you’ve likely experienced stress at work.

Research by PerkBox suggests fully 79% of British adults in employment ‘commonly’ experience work-related stress. That makes it the single biggest source of stress in our lives – above family, financial and relationship stress.1 2 Yikes!

And if you thought the recent rise in home-working and flexi-work would fuel lavender-scented-bath style relaxation across the nation, you’d be wrong my friend. Work-related stress is on the rise.

GIF of Chandler Bing in a bubble bath with caption "I've had a very long, hard day"

Compared to 2018, the number of people who admit to suffering work-related stress is up an eye-watering 20%.3 On the flip side, the number of lucky folks claiming to ‘never’ experience work-related stress is down to just 1%.4 And that’s bad news for businesses. 

According to the Health and Safety Executive’s Labour Force Survey, stress was responsible for 49 per cent of all working days lost in 2016/2017.5 A figure that’s risen by 5% in recent years.6 All-in, worker’s stress, depression and anxiety is thought to have cost the UK economy £30 billion last year.

All of this begs the question… which jobs are driving the trend? 

I this post, we take a look at 3 of the most and least stressful jobs in the UK. So, get your pen and paper handy because you might be about to find a new profession. 

Top 3 most stressful jobs in the UK

The main causes of work-related stress are unrealistic workload, being landed with too much responsibility, not getting the right managerial support and then being paid a pittance for the pleasure of all of the above.7  

It will come as no surprise then that the most stressful jobs in the UK are concentrated in the public sector. According to PerkBox, as many as 92% of Local and national Government workers surveyed report ‘commonly’ experiencing work-related stress.8

But what professions top this troublesome tree? 

1. Welfare professional

Maintaining a streak of many years at the top of the list, it’s welfare professionals. We’re talking family caseworkers, adoption counsellors, youth workers, rehabilitation officers and more. 

Welfare professionals work in industries as diverse as health, education, public admin and defence and earn a very average salary of just over £32,000. 

Perhaps it’s the pressure of responsibility and long working hours. Or maybe it’s a symptom of chronic understaffing and underfunding. Whatever the cause, working in welfare is a tough gig.9

Welfare professionals report 4,990 cases or work-related stress, depression and anxiety per 100,000. That’s 3-5 X the UK average of 1,170-1880 (men vs women)

 

2. Healthcare professional

If you’ve ever been stuck in A&E on a particularly rowdy weekend, you’ll understand the plight of those in our 2nd most stressed occupation category. 

Reports suggest that 84% of healthcare professionals experience high levels of stress.10 But the situation seems to be particularly bad for nurses and midwives, who report absence due to work-related stress at a rate of 3,090 per 100,000.

Research from The Nursing and Midwifery Council and others cites low pay, long hours and chronic staff shortages as the main drivers of poor mental health in these professions.11 

Even worse, public sector workers – and NHS workers in particular – are more likely to suffer adverse effects from overwork. And it’s estimated that it costs the government between £1,794 — 2,174 per employee every year.12

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3. Teacher

As any parent who had to add ‘teacher’ to their list of roles during the recent UK-wide lockdowns will tell you, teaching is really tough. 83% of those who work in education report suffering from work-related stress.13 

According to the National Education Union, 40 out of 60 educational authorities saw an increase in the number of teachers taking sick leave because of stress between 2008 and 2012.14 Plus, a recent survey of health and safety professionals working in education found that 90% rated stress as a top safety concern.15

High workloads, long hours, poor pupil behaviour, target and assessment pressures and management bullying rank among the main causes of teacher stress. 

So, the next time you buy your kid’s teacher an end of year gift, you might want to skip the chocolate and offer up a weekend spa package instead.

Top 3 least stressful jobs in the UK

In true British style, there are few studies examining the least stressful jobs in the UK. So to get the facts, we’ve turned to recruitment business Glassdoor. In their report, ‘25 Best Jobs in the UK for 2020’, they rank the country’s top jobs based on pay (median annual base salary), number of job openings and job satisfaction scores. 

Of course this takes ‘Customer Service Assistant’ in a cat cafe out of the race…

GIF of Grumpy cat taking a sip of coffee from a mug

… along with many other great jobs with low to average pay (looking at you archaeologists) and those with few job openings. But let’s take a look at what they’ve got.

1. Enterprise architect

Topping the charts at no.1 it’s enterprise architects. These are the folks that make sure a business uses the right technology systems architecture to achieve its business goals. They tend to have a high level of responsibility and report to the chief informational officer (CIO).

Enterprise architects report an average job satisfaction rating of 3.9/5, which is lower than some of Glassdoor’s list, e.g. data scientists report 4.2/5 and customer success managers 4.5/5. But the average salary of just over £75,000 clinches enterprise architects the top spot.

2. Product manager

Product managers come in 2nd, with an average salary of just over £56,000 per year and a job satisfaction rating of 3.9/5.

Many of the top jobs on Glassdoor’s list are at managerial level.16 And although managers make up a significant portion of the ‘professionals’ the HSE says are the most highly stressed in the UK, certain groups seem to escape the pain. Here’s what we think is going on…

Studies suggest that people at certain career levels are better able to choose how they spend their working time.17
They also have more control over the tasks they take on and are generally better paid. Increased autonomy and reduced financial stress probably push managers – including product managers – up to the top of the list.

3. Operations manager

Another high-level managerial role that commands a decent salary comes in 3rd place. Operations managers earn an average £55,590 per year and scored their job satisfaction levels a solid 4/5.

With a varied list of responsibilities that cover people, budgets, operations, project delivery and strategy, plus high levels of autonomy, it’s not surprising that operations managers are generally pretty chuffed.

What do you think?

Do you have one of the most or least stressful jobs listed here? Or perhaps you think yours isn’t getting the limelight it deserves? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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Stay up to date with all the latest wellbeing at work research, tips and resources by joining our monthly newsletter. We won’t share your data or spam you with irrelevant information 🙂

Jodie Manners

Jodie Manners

Content Writer

References

  1. The 2020 UK workplace stress survey [Internet]. Perkbox. [cited 2020 Nov 5]. Available from: https://www.perkbox.com/uk/resources/library/2020-workplace-stress-survey
  2. Mind assesses research linking work with stress [Internet]. Mind.org.uk. [cited 2020 Nov 3]. Available from: https://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/news/work-is-biggest-cause-of-stress-in-peoples-lives/#:~:text=Research%20commissioned%20by%20Mind%20has,health%20(17%20per%20cent).
  3. The 2020 UK workplace stress survey [Internet]. Perkbox. [cited 2020 Nov 5]. Available from: https://www.perkbox.com/uk/resources/library/2020-workplace-stress-survey
  4. The 2020 UK workplace stress survey [Internet]. Perkbox. [cited 2020 Nov 5]. Available from: https://www.perkbox.com/uk/resources/library/2020-workplace-stress-survey
  5. Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain, 2020 [Internet]. Health and Safety Executive; 2020. Available from: https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress.pdf
  6. The 2020 UK workplace stress survey [Internet]. Perkbox. [cited 2020 Nov 5]. Available from: https://www.perkbox.com/uk/resources/library/2020-workplace-stress-survey
  7. Farmer P, Stevenson D. Thriving at Work: The Independent Review of Mental Health and Employers [Internet]. Her Majesty’s Government; 2017. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/658145/thriving-at-work-stevenson-farmer-review.pdf
  8. The 2020 UK workplace stress survey [Internet]. Perkbox. [cited 2020 Nov 5]. Available from: https://www.perkbox.com/uk/resources/library/2020-workplace-stress-survey
  9. Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain, 2020 [Internet]. Health and Safety Executive; 2020. Available from: https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress.pdf
  10. The 2020 UK workplace stress survey [Internet]. Perkbox. [cited 2020 Nov 5]. Available from: https://www.perkbox.com/uk/resources/library/2020-workplace-stress-survey
  11. Mitchell G. Exclusive: Working conditions contributing to poor nurse wellbeing [Internet]. Nursing Times. 2020 [cited 2020 Nov 5]. Available from: https://www.nursingtimes.net/news/workforce/exclusive-working-conditions-contributing-to-poor-nurse-wellbeing-15-07-2020/
  12. Mental health and employers: The case for investment [Internet]. Monitor Deloitte; 2017. Available from: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/uk/Documents/public-sector/deloitte-uk-mental-health-employers-monitor-deloitte-oct-2017.pdf
  13. The 2020 UK workplace stress survey [Internet]. Perkbox. [cited 2020 Nov 5]. Available from: https://www.perkbox.com/uk/resources/library/2020-workplace-stress-survey
  14. Tackling stress [Internet]. NEU. [cited 2020 Nov 5]. Available from: https://neu.org.uk/advice/tackling-stress
  15. Focus on health and safety: TUC biennial survey of safety representatives 2018 [Internet]. TUC; 2018. Available from: https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/Safety%20Reps%20report%202018.pdf
  16. Best Jobs in UK [Internet]. Glassdoor. 2020 [cited 2020 Nov 5]. Available from: https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/List/Best-Jobs-in-UK-LST_KQ0,15.htm
  17. Moss J. Unlocking Happiness at Work: How a Data-driven Happiness Strategy Fuels Purpose, Passion and Performance. Kogan Page Publishers; 2016.

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