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Be proactive about stress prevention, management & reduction in your workplace!

Research shows that employee stress levels are rising in line with demands of the 21st Century workplace. ACAS reports that each new case of stress leads to an average of 31 days off work.

What is stress?

The Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) defines stress as the “adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them“. Stress takes many forms. As well as leading to anxiety and depression it can have a significant impact on an employee’s health. ACAS states “Pressure is part and parcel of work and helps to keep us motivated. But excessive pressure can lead to stress which undermines performance, is costly to employers and can make people ill“. Therefore, managing stress effectively is important for all employers.

The law

There is no legislation in the UK that deals specifically with stress. The rights and duties of both employers and their employees in relation to stress derive from a combination of different statutory and common law provisions, and include health and safety legislation; negligence; restrictions on working hours, i.e. the Working Time Regulations 1998; disability discrimination; breach of contract, (breach of mutual trust and confidence); duty of care; whistle blowing and so on. Failure to deal with stress adequately can lead to claims brought in courts and the employment tribunal.

How to manage stress in the workplace

ACAS states that “For many people “stress” still represents something of an unknown quantity. HSE has addressed this problem by developing The Management Standards to help employers measure their performance in managing the key causes of stress at work and identify HOT SPOTS and areas of improvement & further intervention”

The Standards look at the following six areas:

  • Demands made on employees; this requires understanding stress risk factors such as workload or under load & exposure to physical hazards;
  • the level of Control employees have over their work; in other words how much say the person has in the way he / she does work;
  • the Support employees receive from managers and colleagues; employers should consider training and factors unique to the individual;
  • the clarity of an employee’s Role within the organisation; whether the individual understands his or her role in the organisation;
  • the nature of Relationships at work; this covers issues such as bullying and harassment;
  • and the way that Change is managed and communicated within an organisation

When addressing the Standards mentioned above employers should consider taking the following steps:

  • Design a stress policy; this signals that the employer takes issues of stress seriously;
  • Carry out a stress audit;
  • Ensure an open environment in which employees can speak about stress;
  • Use return to work interviews after sickness absence, performance appraisals and employee surveys;
  • Train managers to recognise situations likely to cause stress and identify symptoms of stress;
  • Consult employees, employee representatives or Unions on organisational changes;
  • Avoid placing unreasonable demands on employees by prioritising workloads and appropriate delegation of duties;
  • Provide adequate training in all roles;
  • Provide stress management and wellbeing support.

Overall by taking proactive measures, stress can be prevented thereby reducing sickness absence and in turn time and cost to an employer. It will also provide a more productive, engaged, resilient and happy workforce.

See more at: http://www.choosetonic.co.uk/corporate/

 

Tonic - Health & Wellbeing Experts

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