Work stress driving Kiwis to breaking point

Kiwis are known for their strong work ethic, but it could very well be the thing driving many to breaking point.

It's been revealed New Zealand is the fourth worst in the world for unmanageable stress and the workplace is one of the main drivers.

Beverley Main is one worker who was pushed to breaking point. She spent the last 15 years of her career as a CEO, and loved her work, but it was the very thing that caused her to burn out.

"I found I was having to work longer and longer hours, right into the night, the weekend, and it wasn't until I left that I realised I was doing 80 hours a week," she told Newshub.

She says things reached boiling point in the last five years of her role.

"I'd be crying at my desk at home. If somebody talked to me or looked at me the wrong way I'd just be a flood of tears."

She was running on just a few hours' sleep a night, had recurring shingles, adrenal fatigue, and ended up with a heart problem.

"My heart was operating at 40 percent of its normal function, which was not good, and I was told if I didn't do something about it that I'd die at my desk - and probably quite soon."

Ms Main decided she wanted to live and resigned.

"Everyone knew I wasn't well but nobody really knew how to deal with it," she says.

New figures from Cigna's 360 Wellbeing survey reveal New Zealand is fourth equal in the world with the UK for unmanageable stress.

Eighty-three percent of Kiwis says they suffer from stress and a third say work is the cause. Half of people say their employers don’t offer support.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson says the figures prove some businesses need to do better.

"I think you're actually undermining your own business as well as not doing the right thing by your people," he told Newshub.

"You're going to have higher turnover, higher absenteeism. It's just not a good business model to exploit people through stress."

Ms Main says her former employer offered her little support before and after her resignation.

"I didn’t hear from my organisation once I left apart from them enquiring if I had the company's laptop which I didn't."

But Ms Main does admit her employer isn't solely to blame. She says she also allowed herself to work too hard and hopes others won't make the same mistake.