“No relief in sight for stressed employees as office complaints rise” reports the TORSTAR NEWS SERVICE.

Workload complaints have reached staggering proportions among Canadian employees: nearly nine in 10 employers — 89 per cent — reported heavy workload as a complaint among staff, results of a Towers Watson study show. A similar study by the same professional-services firm two years ago found 64 per cent of employers reported excessive-workload complaints among staff, a difference of 25 percentage points.

“Most organizations report that employee stress is a major and growing business issue,” the latest results also show, comparing results to surveys done every two years for the past 16 years on the health and productivity practices of Canadian and U.S. companies.

In the United States, workload concerns rose a less dramatically but were higher than in Canada in the first place, said Keri Alletson, a researcher on the Towers Watson study. The U.S. figure rose to 87 per cent from 78 per cent.

Among U.S. employees, fears of losing a job also ranked high as a stressor. Among respondents, 56 per cent of U.S. employers reported such fears among their staff, compared with 36 per cent in Canada, she said. As firms look to combat stress, disability and absenteeism, some are considering pay bonuses to workers who engage in fitness and other health-management programs, the survey found.

Mental-health issues ranked as the No. 1 cause of both short-term and long-term disabilities in Canada, the survey showed. “That certainly ties in with what we have seen,” said Aimee Israel, chief executive of the Toronto-based workplace consulting company LifeSpeak. “We work with companies across Canada that have access to our online library and mental-health videos are among the most in demand,” she said.

The survey was completed by 335 human resources and health benefit managers at Canadian and U.S. companies with 1,000 or more employees. The responders represent 7.8-million workers in all major industry sectors, the Towers Watson researchers said.

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