The Most Stressful Industries in the UK Revealed


New research from BusinessComparison has identified which sectors, industries and career paths experience the most work-related stress, as well as which UK regions. 

Work-related stress is a serious issue that can affect any individual’s mental and physical health. It also has a significant effect on the workplace, lowering morale, reducing productivity and even leading to resignations, if the causes of the stress are not resolved. 

BusinessComparison’s new research found that across all industries, one in ten British workers experience stress, at 12.5%. But when you dig deeper into the data, which are the highest stress occupations? 


Philip Brennan, Founder and MD at BusinessComparison, comments:

 “Our new research has revealed some useful insights into which professions are most likely to experience work-related stress. Business owners who run a customer-facing company should definitely be aware of the high risk of stress for them and their employees – at 27% affected by stress, they have the highest level of stress of all the professions we researched.

“Working to reduce stress in your workplace isn’t just about being an ethical employer. It’s a good business practice that will help you retain staff and keep productivity high. The NHS have a useful work-related stress page that links to resources for staff at any level, with guidance specifically for business owners and managers, as well as tips that anyone can use to help manage their stress.”


Highest Stress Occupations

The most stressed profession was customer service occupations, 27% of those in the sector reporting stress. 

This was followed by services occupations at 23.6%, cleaning occupations at 22.9% and storage occupations at 21.7%. Finally, the fifth highest stress occupation was that of web and multimedia design professions, 20.9% of whom reported experiencing stress. 


Lowest Stress Occupations

The occupation with the lowest stress level was production managers and directors, only 4% of whom said they experienced stress this year. 

Science, engineering and production technicians followed, at 5.6%. 5% of managers and proprietors in health and care services experienced stress. Lastly, the fifth lowest stress levels last year belonged to those in sports and fitness occupations, at 6.5%.  


The study also investigates these professions’ changes in stress levels over the last 5 years.

Looking back over the past 5 years, you can see that some occupations have experienced dramatic shifts in their stress levels. 


  • Customer service professionals/shopkeepers and sales supervisors: Could both of these professions’ stress have begun to rise in 2022 after customer-facing businesses reopening in the wake of Covid-19? 
  • Managers and proprietors of health and care services: It’s likely that Covid-19 had a significant impact on this profession’s rising stress in 2021, with care homes experiencing great difficulty protecting vulnerable residents from the virus. 
  • Sports and fitness occupations: According to the State of UK Fitness Industry Report 2023, the industry is thriving – could this have contributed to lower stress? 
  • Managers and directors in transport and logistics: Rising stress could be caused by increased costs of fuel and labour. 


The Most and Least Stressed UK Regions

Northern Ireland is more than 5% more stressed than the UK average at 17.7%. There are four more regions with a higher than average level of stress: London, the East Midlands, Scotland and lastly, Yorkshire and Humberside. 

On the other hand, the North East was just under the national average at 10.8% affected.

Also, a full percentage point lower in stress than average were the South West and the South East. 

It’s clear to see that some work-related stress is caused by nationwide events such as Covid-19 and increased costs caused by inflation. However, the fact that some occupations are more stressed than others is significant. It means that, as employers, there is a responsibility to assess any risk factors in your industry that could lead to you or your employees experiencing stress or burnout – it’s harmful for business, and for individual wellbeing. 


The full report can be found here: 



All the data was taken from the Labor Force Survey for the years 2018 through 2023, as available via UK Data Service. The percentage of workers affected by mental health issues was calculated as the number of those indicating “depression, bad nerves” or “mental illness, phobia, panics” being their main health problem, divided by the total number of workers in a given occupation (based on Standard Occupational Classification) or region. Only the occupations with at least 100 workers surveyed in each year were included into the analysis.

Data was collected in Feb 2024.


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