Young workers are 40 per cent more likely to call in sick due to stress than older employees, according to a new UK survey.

Almost seven in ten workers aged between 18 and 24 have called in sick due to stress in the last year, according to a report into workplace stress by a UK-based provider of financial products and services.

This figure falls to half of all people over the age of 55, a reduction of 40 per cent, The Telegraph reported.

Experts said that young workers may feel more stressed than the older generation because they have more expectation on their shoulders.

Young people may also be more aware of the telltale signs of stress than older people, they believe.

The report found that the proportion of people who have called in sick over the last year due to stress gradually increased as people get younger.

For example, while 67 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds called in sick over the last year, this figure fell to 54 per cent among 25 to 34 year olds and to 47 per cent among 35 to 44 year olds.

Only 43 per cent of people aged between 45 and 55 called in sick. This figure rose slightly, to 49 per cent, to workers over the age of 55.

Overall, the study said that half of the 2,000 people it surveyed have felt more stress since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, the paper said.

The biggest stresses were listed as money, work and relationships, found the survey by Friends Life.

Dr Ian Drever, consultant psychiatrist at The Priory Group, which helps people with stress-related and other issues, said that younger people may be under greater pressure because they feel they have more to prove as they are at the start of their career.

“There may be a couple of dynamics at play as to why younger people are more prone to call in sick due to stress than the older generation,” he said.

“Firstly, younger people maybe more stressed due to their job roles being more time pressured, having greater expectations upon them to climb the career ladder and cope with numerous demands in more challenging economic times,” he added.

“Secondly, young people may now feel more comfortable with signalling that they are under stress, and reporting it in the workplace,” he said.

“They may also be more aware of the signs of stress in themselves – such as disrupted sleep or diminished cognitive performance – so can recognise it at an earlier stage, and then flag this up within the work environment,” he said.

“This is an extremely worrying number of young people who are starting their working life under strain and is something which needs to be monitored carefully,” David Williams, director of group protection at Friends Life, said.

(This article was published on November 6, 2012)
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