New research has revealed what around half of the workforce already suspected –  that women feel more stress than men at work – with one in 10 reporting stress levels are unmanageable.

According to Cigna, whose research was taken from the Cigna 360 Wellbeing Survey, excessive workloads, difficulties managing personal finances and personal health are amongst  the top triggers for stress.

Almost 80% of women reported not getting enough sleep compared to 65% of. The survey revealed that men sleep more, have more exercise, and, generally, are eating healthier.

However, higher stress levels amongst women isn’t especial to the UK. Cigna found that 88% of women at work around the globe cite feeling stressed – with 13% describing it as “unmanageable”.

Cigna’s findings mirror the Health and Safety Executive’s findings which found that from the age of 25 onward, women feel much more stress than men.

According to the research, those women working in the health and the public sector are most likely to feel stressed.

Why are women reporting more stress at work?

  • Some studies explain the different by women often have to balance work and family life more than men.
  • Institutionalised inequality in the workplace, such as men being perceived as better than women, and  female employees not being paid as much or promoted as regularly, also played a part.
  • There were also appearance expectations – often described as having to “look the part.” You may recall the high-profile fall-out after a KPMG receptionist was sent home for not wearing high heels. A subsequent parliamentary report, into the issue, also highlighted a vast difference between appearance expectations for men and women.

What can employers do?

  • Flexible working can certainly help. If companies and organisations are genuinely interested in making their loyal and talented female staff feel less stressed – then allowing employees wherever possible to work from home is an important step forward.
  • As can higher pay and better job security. Women are also unhappy about lower pay than men, job insecurity and lack of potential for career progression. The Cigna study found  75% of women do not feel positive about their finances compared to just 62% of men.
  • Other improvements could be more structural. Women being paid less could be due to there being less women in senior positions because they are recruited less at entry-level.

However, higher stress levels amongst women isn’t especial to the UK. Cigna found that 88% of women at work around the globe report feeling stressed – with 13% describing it as “unmanageable”.

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