Stress in charities on the rise, survey finds

Over half of charity leaders (51 per cent) feel stress in the charity sector has become an issue over the past year, new findings show.

The concerns increased in line with the size of the charity, with 57 per cent of medium-sized charities and 61 per cent of large charities admitting that it was a growing problem.

The findings come from a survey by specialist insurer Ecclesiastical, which also found that funding cuts and increasing demands on staff have led, at least in part, to this rise in stress levels.

The challenging financial situation facing the voluntary sector is the main contributor to stress with charities citing increasing demands on staff (78 per cent), lack of resources (75 per cent) and reduced funding (74 per cent) as the main drivers of the problem.

Vicarious trauma was also seen as a major contributor to stress with key factors including staff having to regularly deal with people with difficult behaviours (66 per cent) and being exposed to highly emotional and stressful situations (60 per cent).

Ecclesiastical charity director, Angus Roy, said: “Working in the charity sector has always been a challenging career but austerity measures over the past few years have made it even more difficult as charities have had to manage on tighter budgets.

"This has had an impact on staff with greater demands being put on them with fewer resources. Our research shows this has driven up stress levels and had a significant effect on staff recruitment and retention.”

A third of charity leaders in Ecclesiastical’s survey admitted that stress was an issue in their workplace, with the figure increasing to 51 per cent at large charities. Of those charities that admitted stress was an issue, two in five (38 per cent) said that it was affecting their ability to retain and recruit staff.

The increasing stress levels have also led to a broader range of insurance claims in recent years, including claims for personal injury, both physical and psychiatric, resulting from employees feeling overworked, under-supported or under-trained.

Charities have responded with policies to help the situation, with 77 per cent of large charities and 72 per cent of medium charities surveyed having introduced a wellbeing policy, however smaller charities seem to have lagged with only a third of small charities (33 per cent) having followed suite.

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