Charity leaders more stressed than three years ago, survey indicates

Research among 200 charity bosses shows that the larger the charity, the greater the stress

More than half of charity leaders say workplace stress has increased over the past three years, according to the results of a survey published today.

The survey, which was conducted on behalf of the specialist insurer Ecclesiastical, shows the tough financial climate is the main contributor to stress.

Increasing demands on staff (78 per cent), lack of resources (75 per cent) and reduced funding (74 per cent) were cited as the main drivers of the problem.

The study of 200 charity leaders carried out by the consultancy FWD Research also found that the bigger the charity, the greater the level of concern about stress.

Leaders at 57 per cent of medium-sized charities, which were defined as having annual incomes of between £500,000 and £1.5m, admitted it was a growing problem.

The figure increased to 61 per cent for leaders of large charities, which were defined as having incomes of more than £1.5m a year.

The survey also discovered that many charity leaders felt not enough was being done to help stressed staff.

It showed that 49 per cent of respondents said a lack of wellbeing support was a contributing factor to stress levels and 73 per cent agreed that more needed to be done to tackle the issue.

Angus Roy, charity director at Ecclesiastical, 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."

Louise Stubbs, a partner at the law firm BLM, which specialises in insurance risk, highlighted the link between stress levels and litigation.

"With the impact of economic pressures resulting in funding and staffing cuts, we now see many claims for injury, in particular stress and psychiatric injury, on the back of employees feeling overworked, under-supported or under-trained, for example," she said. 

"These claims are inevitably difficult to defend where charities have failed to keep risk assessments or have failed to ensure sufficient staffing."

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