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 79% of employed British adults ‘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 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 Not only is that a tragedy for the country’s workers, it’s also 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 cost the UK economy around £30 billion per year.

But not all jobs are created equal! So we’re here to ask which jobs are driving the trend. In this post, we reveal the 3 most and least stressful jobs in the UK. 

 

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
  • Being paid a pittance for 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 say they ‘commonly’ experience work-related stress.8

But clearly some public sector jobs are less tolerable than others. Let’s take a look a look at the most stressful 3.  

1. Welfare professional

Maintaining a lengthy 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 £32,000. 

Perhaps it’s the responsibility and long hours, or a symptom of understaffing and underfunding in the sector. Whatever the cause, welfare is stressful work.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 is 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 So, no surprises there! 

But, even worse, NHS workers are more likely to suffer adverse effects from overwork than workers in other sectors. A problem that costs the UK government between £1,794 — 2,174 per employee per year.12

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3. Teacher

As the recent spate of pandemic-related home-schooling taught us, teaching is a tough gig. And it’s not just time poor, ill-equipped parents who struggle, 83% of those who work in education report suffering from work-related stress.13 

According to the National Education Union, two thirds of educational authorities saw an increase in teachers taking stress-related sick leave 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 workload, 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 score. 

Of course this method 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 archaeologist) and those with few advertised jobs. But nothing is ever perfect, so let’s take a look at what they’ve got.

1. Enterprise architect

Topping the charts at no.1 are enterprise architects. These cheery folks make sure businesses use the right technology systems architecture to achieve their goals. So they have a high level of responsibility and accountability at work.

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 (4.2/5) and customer success managers (4.5/5). But it seems they’re happy to deal with the lows for the very respectable average salary of just over £75,000 per year.

2. Product manager

Product managers steam in to take 2nd place with an average annual salary of £56,000 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, 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 have more control over the tasks they take on and are better paid for the privilege.

According to the science of workplace wellbeing, increased autonomy and reduced financial stress push managers (and especially product managers) up to the top of the list.

3. Operations manager

Coming in at number 3 is another high-level and well-paid managerial role. Operations managers earn an average £55,590 per year and reported a job satisfaction score of 4/5.

With a varied list of responsibilities that cover people, budgets, operations, project delivery and strategy, and a high level of autonomy, it’s not surprising that operations managers are feeling 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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Take control of stress with our top stress-busting tips plus other great Haptivate resources by joining our monthly newsletter. We won’t share your data or spam you with irrelevant information 🙂

Jodie Manners

Jodie Manners

Content Specialist

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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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