Most human resources professionals in the United Kingdom give their own organization poor marks when it comes to dealing with staff stress, according to a new poll by Web service HR Gateway.

Nearly six in ten (58 percent) respondents said their own company was "poor" at handling staff stress, while 16 percent answered "average," 15 percent "good" and 11 percent defined their company as "excellent" in managing stress.

Of the 40.2 million days lost to UK business in the 2001-2002 period, about one-third (13.4 million) were lost to stress, anxiety or depression, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), with around 563,000 people being affected by stress.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) said that the figures were hardly surprising given the intensity of work placed on employees. Even special management techniques cannot help, it said.

"Stress is still not a hot issue for many firms, and dealing with it is not part of the standard line manager's kit. Translating policies into practice is not easy. The results are disappointing but sadly to be expected," said Mike Emmott of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).