At What Age Do Stress
Levels Peak At Work?
Experts at The University of Nottingham say our stress levels
at work peak when we reach about 50 to 55 years of age and decrease
as we head towards retirement.
In the first comprehensive report into age related stress and
health at work to be carried out in Britain researchers from the
Institute of Work, Health and Organisations also found that the
effects of stress in our working lives can stay with us well into
The research, led by Amanda Griffiths, Professor of Occupational
Health Psychology, reviewed hundreds of publications from the
last 20 years. Professor Griffiths, said: Work related stress
is thought to be responsible for more lost working days than any
other cause and it is becoming clear that it is also one factor
affecting older workers willingness and ability to remain
in the labour force. Therefore, protecting tomorrows older
workers, as well as todays, will pay dividends, as older
workers will form a major part of tomorrows workforce.
Many of us are likely to be working much longer than we expected.
Until now the majority of reviews of research into work-related
stress its causes and its effects have been based
on large groups of workers and very rarely distinguished by age.
This report, for TAEN The Age and Employment Network, Age
Concern and Help the Aged, aimed to address that gap.
This new research suggests that the reason studies show smaller
number of workers report high stress levels once in their 50s
might be because they have left stressful posts in favour of something
less demanding; they already have retired voluntarily or because
of ill health; or increasing seniority can give staff more control
over their working life which makes it less stressful. The report
says this makes older staff the healthy survivors
of the workplace.
Chris Ball, TAEN Chief Executive, said: This report fills
an important gap in our understanding of how stressful work can
impact upon people towards the end of their working lives and
into retirement. Demographic change and ageing populations have
made extending working life a priority both in the UK and elsewhere.
Clearly, we have to consider the kind of work people do and every
aspect of the working environment with a view to removing stressors
where we possibly can. TAEN and our sister charity, Age Concern
and Help the Aged, sincerely hope this report will influence thinking
and practice, so the casual acceptance of work-created mental
ill health, permeating into older age, becomes a thing of the
The report suggests that stress could be eased by giving older
staff more control over their job; better recognition for the
contribution they make; increased flexible working; and improvements
in social support.
Professor Griffiths said: As we get older peoples
priorities may also change; they often have caring responsibilities,
or wish to spend time with grandchildren and develop other interests.
Their work and career may not be their primary drivers. Making
work attractive and flexible to allow older people to balance
work and their other interests more easily may be one very important
step forward. She suggests that such investments in the
quality of peoples third age their life
after retirement should be made during working life, not
Reference Source 125
October 22, 2009