Stress may be leading to sicknessRecent figures detailing the problem of stress in the workplace are just the "tip of the iceberg", according to one sector commentator – and could be causing major problems in terms of absence management.

Research by consultancy firm Mercer revealed that sick leave amongst women is 24 per cent higher than amongst men, while the rates for stress related illnesses is twice as high for women as men.

By contrast, muscle sprains, fractures and other physical injuries sustained by men account for at least double the absence rates amongst women.

Commenting on the news, Jenny Edwards, director of the International Stress Management Association, said many people who are off from work with "legitimate problems" could find that the ailments have been caused or aggravated by stress.

She advised employers and HR teams: "I think first of all [companies have] got to really look at ensuring they’ve got managers who are approachable and aware of stress and don’t see it as a weakness; but allow themselves to be approachable and engage with staff."