Work-related stress

Work-related stress is one of the huge health and safety challenges faced in Europe. It is the second most frequently reported work-associated health issue, affecting 22% of workers in EU since 2005. The number of people suffering from work-related stress is likely to increase in upcoming years due to the current situation of COVID-19.  Due to current pandemic situation, many people are losing their jobs and at some places people are facing salary/wage reduction.

Research shows a relation between declining quality of life with declining quality of relationships with spouse, children, and family due to work-related stress (Crouter et al., 2001).

Prevalence of stress

The highest levels of stress were reported in Greece (55%), and in Slovenia (38%), Sweden (38%), and Latvia (37%), and the lowest levels noted in the United Kingdom (12%), Germany, Ireland, and the Netherlands (16%) as well as in the Czech Republic (17%), France and Bulgaria (18%) according to European risk observation report.

Implications of long-term stress

Long term and intense stress may lead to pathological ramifications. It has been proved that work-related stress can potentially lead to cardiovascular, musculoskeletal diseases along with immunological and mental health problems. Research has also shown that work-related stress can cause acute myocardial infarction and it is significantly associated with developing hypertension, atherosclerosis, angina pectoris, coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus.

Economic Burden

‘Human costs’ of stress and psychosocial risks at work include the emotional strain and reduction in quality of life experienced by affected individuals (Hoel et al., 2001). This may lead to to increased medical and insurance costs and reduced income. At an individual level. Health care costs are covered in the Europe by the national health care systems than individuals; however, it may increase economic burden on the healthcare system (De Curtis, 2012).  Stress-related illness or injury can impact worker’s earning due to productivity loss and absenteeism.  Alternatively, some workers might have to leave employment completely.

At the organizational level, the financial impact of work-related stress and psychosocial risks are associated with productivity loss, higher levels of absenteeism and employee turnover. In the United Kingdom, in 2011/12, work-related stress caused workers to lose 10.4 million working days, and workers were absent for on average 24 days (HSE, 2013).

At a societal level, ill health related to chronic work-associated stress and prolonged exposure to psychosocial risks at work can strain national health services and reduce economic productivity, having a negative impact on a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) (Hoel et al., 2001; Béjean and Sultan-Taieb, 2005).



  • Bejean, S. and Sultan-Taieb, H., ‘Modelling the economic burden of diseases imputable to stress at work’, European Journal of Health Economics, Vol. 50, 2005, pp. 16–23.
  • Crouter, A.C., Bumpus, M.F., Head, M.R. and McHale, S.M., ‘Implications of overwork and overload for the quality of men’s family relationships’, Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 63, No 2, 2001, pp. 404–416.
  • De Curtis, M., ‘Universal healthcare coverage in Europe’, The Lancet, Vol. 380, No 9854, 2012, pp. 1644–1645.
  • Hoel, H., Sparks, K. and Cooper, C.L., The cost of violence/stress at work and the benefits of a violence/stress-free working environment, International Labour Organization (ILO), Geneva, 2001. Available at:– en/index.htm.
  • HSE — Health and Safety Executive, Costs to Britain of workplace fatalities and self-reported injuries and ill health, 2010/11 (data complemented through direct correspondence with the HSE),