Who's Stressed Out? Part 2
- Date: Friday 20th November 2015
A Labour Force Survey estimates that the total number of cases of work related stress, anxiety and depression in 2013-14 was 487 000, which equates to 39% of all work related illnesses.
If stress is ‘the adverse reaction people have to pressure and other types of demand placed on them’, we need to know what we are reacting against so that this can be controlled.
Where Do We Start?
A documented Stress Policy and suitable and sufficient risk assessments must be carried out as a minimum. As a part of the risk assessment process we should ask ourselves:
- What are the company workplace stresses
- Who is likely to get stressed and who is more prone to stress
- What systems do we have in place to identify and deal with stress
- Are our systems sufficient
- How do we inform our employees?
- How do we monitor stress and our management of it?
HSE Management Standards
The HSE have produced the ‘Management Standards’ to help employers risk assess and control stress in the workplace. These standards represent a set of conditions that reflect high levels of health, well being and organisational performance and should be used as a part of the risk assessment process.
- Demands: Workload, work patterns and the working environment
- Control: How much control an employee has in the way they carry out their work
- Support: The encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues
- Relationships: Promoting positive working to avoid conflict and ensuring unacceptable behaviour is dealt with
- Role: Whether employees understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles
- Change: How organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organization.
The results of stress risk assessments can have far reaching implications to the manner in which we conduct our business; reasonably practicable solutions must be sought for identified problems. These could comprise adjustments to methods of work and higher levels of communication and training of employees in personal stress management.
Risk assessment for stress management is not as clear cut as, for example, the use of a piece of work equipment. Different jobs can involve varying levels of stress, and individuals deal with stress in different ways; some good and some bad. It is up to employers to ensure that they have an appropriate strategy in place for managing stress that is suited to their organisation. They must ensure that this strategy includes the education of employees with respect to their own capabilities and the natural ways in which they can stay calm and manage their daily stress.
Stress management or managing stress? Both have an equal standing in today’s workplace.