Employers will be hit by in-creasing compensation claims if they do not introduce stress management strategies, a leading broker group has warned.

Jardine Lloyd Thompson's (JLT) corporate risks division issued the warning as Health and Safety Executive figures showed an estimated one in five employees suffered from high levels of work stress. This was supported by a recent Datamonitor report which said that fewer employees now took a proper lunch break, which is a known method of lowering stress.

JLT Consultancy, the risk management arm of JLT, comprises a number of professional organisations, such as Sypol Liberty Risk Services. They help companies formulate and maintain stress management strategies.

Sypol managing director Lawrence Waterman said businesses could not afford to ignore workplace stress, which could lead to lost working hours, legal claims and lower profits.

He said at the moment companies seemed more interested in dealing with the effects of stress than the causes.

“However, the direct link between stress management and profitability has now been recognised by most forward-thinking companies,” he said.