Executives urged to reduce staff stress

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A quarter of all senior managers suffer from bouts of extreme stress every day and company executives should do more to reduce their workloads, a survey reports.

A quarter of all senior managers suffer from bouts of extreme stress every day and company executives should do more to reduce their workloads, a survey reports.

Stress led to tiredness, poor concentration and ill-health among the 200 managing directors, finance officers and other senior business leaders questioned.

Only 14 per cent had been on stress management courses and only 3 per cent said their employer had offered to discuss the problem.

Alistair Henderson, of the business telecoms group Energis who produced the report, said staff should try to take regular breaks rather than working through lunch in an attempt to hit deadlines. Regular exercise was also recommended.

"Considering the detrimental impact on business if stress goes ignored, it is extremely concerning that few employers are taking proactive measures to support their staff in stress management," he said.

The launch of the survey coincided with the publication of a book designed to explain the secrets of body language. "Communication without body language would be like writing without punctuation," said Richard Thompson, one of the authors of the report by the Institute of Management.

"While words are learnt, body language is subconscious, automatic and mostly cross-cultural. Words inform, body language gives meaning. It is so essentially human we take it for granted but cracking the code can get you ahead of rivals."

Dr Thompson said only 10 per cent of what people wish to communicate comes from the words they use. Their tone of voice accounts for 40 per cent and the accompanying gestures for the remaining 50 per cent. So although many people might feel they don't need to be told when their boss is stressed, the book gives a helpful list of signs to note.

They include earlobe tugging, lighting but not smoking cigarettes, head scratching and dropping things. And silently picking invisible specks of lint off one's clothes indicates general disagreement that may develop into stress.

The authors warn that if nothing is done to alleviate management stress, it is likely to turn to aggression.

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