Helping Employees with Credit Crunch stress levels

As the recession deepens and anxiety takes hold, you can play a vital role in helping staff avoid falling victim to stress. Increased anxiety brought about by financial and job insecurity now pose a risk to employee health, with two in three workers claiming they feel more stressed, run down and prone to illness since the credit crunch.

A serious issue is that increased stress can have a direct impact on employee health in itself, causing increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is proven to suppress immunity, making those most under pressure more susceptible to viruses.

Heightened levels of stress can also lead to other symptoms, including reduced ability to sleep, loss of appetite and tendency towards maladaptive behaviours, such as excessive alcohol consumption or drug use, further damaging the individual’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Good and bad
This isn’t to say that all stress is a bad thing. A certain amount of ‘good’ stress is essential, motivating us to perform and strive to overcome obstacles. Too little stress, and we become bored and disengaged. Stress is our body’s natural warning signal, telling us that there’s an event on the horizon that will require all our focus and energy to overcome it. The problem arises when we are unable to recover quickly and fully. Then our body/mind equilibrium becomes disturbed and sets itself to a constant state of alarm. The resulting ‘bad’ stress can lead to ill health, ranging from anxiety and depression to cardiovascular disease.

Research into who stays healthy while under stress reveals that it isn’t the amount of stress that we are exposed to that matters most, but rather our ability to view increased pressure as a positive challenge to be overcome, rather than an insurmountable obstacle or threat.

The problem is that each individual’s reaction to stress is different, with some people positively thriving on increased uncertainty, pressure and deadlines that others would gladly call in sick to avoid. Indeed ‘stress junkies’ – competitive high-achievers – pride themselves on performing under pressure so extreme it would cause most of us to become distracted by the thought of failure and under-perform.

Stress occurs when our perception of a threat or pressure exceeds our perceived ability to cope. For the most part, this is pre-determined by our genetic disposition and principles for living imparted to us in early life. However, there is a third factor – how pressurised our environment is – once wrongly viewed as a ‘manager disease’, the reality is that those who feel most overworked and least empowered are most likely to become sick from stress.

Research shows the more people feel they can control their destiny, even if that’s just setting their own deadlines or having an opportunity to own a project or initiative, the greater their resilience to stress and the adverse health effects that can result.

Vitality initiatives, ranging from nutrition workshops to sports activities, should be designed not only to improve the physical wellbeing of staff, but also to educate them on how to boost their energy levels. Something as simple as introducing a bowl of fruit, information on how to improve their posture at work, or telephone access to an employee assistance programme (EAP) to talk through any concerns, will encourage employees to take better care of themselves.

Even if you are considering redundancies, offering career coaching & outplacement services can result in a very negative outcome being viewed in a positive light by employees, and can avoid damage to your brand.

When employees feel looked after and empowered to take care of themselves at work, they will naturally follow these principles outside of work, and feel less inclined to drink to excess, skip meals or stay up late.

It is important to empower staff to take better care of themselves, and increase their resilience to stress, is breaking bad habits. If someone habitually works through lunch and does not realise how thirsty they are until the end of the day, they will be even less inclined to listen to their body in times of crisis. To overcome this, we must promote healthy workplace rituals that also increase productivity, such as working intensively for ‘sprints’ of two hours followed by a proper break, but also engage senior managers to lead by example and make employees feel it’s okay to follow suit.

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Investigation & Surveillance for Lawyers

TP Investigations Limited is the litigation support arm of Since 2001 we have been providing discrete surveillance and investigation services to law firms and their clients, and have a good track record of getting results. You can ring 01745 819238 to request a quote, visit the website at or email

The Case of the Walking Woman

We were instructed by an Australian law firm who had strong doubts about a claim that had been put in by an English claimant living in Yorkshire, who had been injured on a train in New South Wales, and they had been curious as to the truth of her statement. As a result, they instructed us to undertake two days of surveillance to see what her movements were. We were in possession of her Witness Statement from the Australian law firm, which stated that she was having trouble walking and was unable to get out of her house without the help of a wheelchair.

We undertook surveillance for two days, recording the claimant walking & running up the street and moving about freely, and clearly not having the difficulties she claimed to be suffering from in her Witness Statement. With the work that we undertook, the Australian defendants were able to reduce their offer to her before trial, and the case settled at a substantially lower level than would otherwise have been the case.

This was a difficult case, as the claimant lived on a very busy street with no parking, and we had to be very careful not to get spotted. Our investigator read the newspaper a lot! The joys of private investigation work – lots of hanging around and waiting for just those few moments of filming opportunities.

You can follow our investigator as he goes about some of the assignments we take on via Twitter at

House Prices Down 28%, but is this the bottom of the market?

UK property prices will have fallen by 28% from their peak before the market downturn ends, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has said. The economists’ group predicted prices would reach their trough early next year, but said there was little chance of real price growth until 2013. Prices peaked in the third quarter of 2007 and have slid sharply since then.

Average prices would rise to £170,000 by the end of 2013, from a predicted £144,000 at the end of 2009, it said. The CEBR added that improved conditions in the housing market suggested that property prices only had about a further 8% left to fall.

This article perhaps indicates that we are approaching the bottom of the property market, and that things are going to start picking up very shortly. We have heard similar stories from estate agents and property consultants recently, as they are seeing 1st time buyers back in again through the door, and trying to pick up a bargain.

We have also heard it said that the fact that the extra homes it has been claimed we need over the next 10-15 years have not been built as a result of the downturn, and as soon as purchasers get a whiff of the potential shortage we will see a sharp upturn in the property market, which will fuel the legal jobs market again with commercial property, corporate finance, conveyancing, wills & probate and related work all picking up speed again.

Is this far fetched? You can comment on the article below…

Jonathan Fagan,

Salary Guide – May 2009

Salary Guide from Recent Placements and Offers
In case this assists anyone with determining salary levels, we have included recent offers into us:

1. Duty Solicitor, North London – £35,000
2. Duty Solicitor – Freelance – Central London – 66% Court Work, 75% Police Station
3. Duty Solicitor & Higher Court Advocate – Kent – £42,000
4. Family Solicitor – Panel Member – S East London – £38,000
5. Commercial Litigation/Property Solicitor – In House – South West – £45,000
6. Commercial Litigation Solicitor – Cardiff – £40,000 (3 years PQE) 
7. Conveyancing Solicitor – West London (consultancy) – 50% profit share.
8. Conveyancing Fee Earner – Cambridge – £16,000
9. Defendant Personal Injury Solicitor (Senior) – Ipswich – £50,000
10. Housing Solicitor – S East London – £32,000

Legal Job Market Summary 6th May 2009

April 2009 has not been a good month in the legal job market. Unsurprisingly really, and when I look back at previous years the month includes our lowest ever fee income levels (2003 – Iraq War + Easter), our lowest number of placements (April 2005) and our quietest month in job vacancies. In fact, it has been so quiet at times we have actually closed the Ten-Percent offices in the first week of April and sent everyone on annual leave for a week.

We have had 14 interviews, 5 job offers and 50 new vacancies since our last newsletter in March. Some of these interviews have been for consultancy posts, but the overwhelming majority have been for employed positions with salaried roles. Although a number of larger firms poked their heads above the parapet this month, most of them popped back down again quickly, and the majority of these positions have been with smaller practices. 

Whilst numbers of candidates are up and the number of job vacancies down, there does seem to be a different atmosphere taking off which will hopefully lead to a resurgence in the legal market over the next few months, albeit not to any great extremes.

Legal Recruitment News Website launched –

Legal Recruitment News is now available on its’ own website, together with comments and much more to be added over the coming months. If you would like to advertise your firm’s services on the site free of charge for one month, please email us through a brief description and a web link to, and we will post your details. At present the domain has a Google Page Ranking of 4, which for the uninitiated is very good news for your site on the Google Search Engine….