Brexit uncertainty 'increasing' workplace stress

Uncertainty over Brexit has caused a big rise in workplace stress, according to a Lancashire-based personal development and business coach.

Ross McWilliam, who works with businesses across the North West, says growing numbers of business owners and their staff have lost confidence or have issues with self-doubt since the EU referendum in 2016.

New research has reported rising stress levels among the UK’s small businesses – with economic uncertainty and heavy workloads adding to the challenges of running a small business.

A national study of 500 small business owners found that 83 per cent have experienced stress in the past six months, with almost half saying they have been more stressed than normal and 17 per cent revealing they are ‘highly stressed’.

Preston-based Ross, a former commercial manager at Preston North End, works with business owners and their workers in a wide range of sectors across the UK.

He says he has seen the effects of Brexit uncertainty in Lancashire. He said: “What shocked me was when I heard a woman saying the uncertainly over Brexit had made her very anxious, so anxious indeed, that she had returned to her GP to re-start her anxiety meds.

“This one case has been mirrored many times by people who have presumed the worst is about to happen and they can’t help but take that into the workplace.

There is confusion which will clearly affect business confidence.

“Many people are ‘catastrophising’ and assuming the worst case scenario. There is confusion which will clearly affect business confidence. It can start at the top and will trickle down to employees. There is no getting away from this.”

Ross said media reports on the possible negative impact of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, with doom-ridden predictions of huge traffic jams at ports, shortages of key supplies and a lack of medicines, had also had an impact.

He said: “Confidence is obviously not being helped by the lack of direction and agreement in Parliament - this indecision only serves to re-ignite some people’s negative perception of politicians, the view that when it comes to a potential crisis they waver at best, and at worst make no decision.”

Ross added: “The key is to be logical and rational and certainly not to panic. Contingent planning is needed, but so too is the ability to hold your nerve... a great component of individual and business belief and confidence.”