Bradford Factor

Stress in the Workplace

The UK work environment (industrial, commerce, professional services, etc) bleeds out millions of pounds each year, due to lost work hours as a result of periods of sick absences. A large percentage (39%) is due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) define work-related stress as ‘a harmful reaction that people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work’. Statistician Paul Buckley, contributed to the Health and Safety Executive report ‘Stress-related and Psychological Disorders in Great Britain 2014’. Data was collected from two sources:

1)Labour Force Survey (LFS) - a household survey consisting of around 44 000 households across Great Britain. The data collated is based on individuals perceptions.

2)Data collection through the Health and Occupation Research network for general practitioners (THOR-GP) - GPs across the UK assess whether new cases of mental ill health are work-related, and if so, what was the work-related cause of this disorder.

Here are a few interesting statistics:

Areas of work

The HSE report collated information specific to different work areas. The following work areas have shown (statistically) significantly higher estimated prevalence rates of work-related stress for around 4 years (since 2010).

Specific occupations with significantly higher estimated prevalence rate of work-related stress, since 2010 are (per 100,000 people):


There were marginally more women than men that suffered with work-related stress (5.9 days for women, 5.4 million days for men), depression or anxiety and the 45-54 age group had a significantly higher rate than other age groups. Unsurprisingly, it is reported that small workplaces (up to 50 employees) had the lowest rate of work-related stress, depression or anxiety, followed by medium sized workplaces (50-249 employees). Places with more than 250 employees had the highest rate. Self-employed workers, including those with a partner but no employees, consistently show a lower rate of work-related stress, depression or anxiety.

Causes of Stress

Patients reported to GPs that the main causes of work-related stress, depression or anxiety are:

Shown as a percentage, specific themes within the workplace caused stress, depression or Anxiety:

Factors intrinsic to the job: approx. 36%

Interpersonal relationships: approx. 23%

Changes at work: approx. 12%

Personal development: over approx. 8%

Others: approx. 6%

Home-work interface: approx. 6%

Traumatic Events: approx. 4%

When considering causes of stress in the workplace, employers can take action to reduce the risk of staff being absent from work. Being proactive can save time and money, though it may take some investment initially – ‘speculate to accumulate’.

Bradford Factor Resources

Additional Bradford Factor Resources

For further information on The Bradford Factor (Use, Implementation and Record Keeping), please review our Bradford Factor guides and management strategy information.