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What is Stress Management

Workplace Stress

 

Not all occupational ill health is physical. Stress and associated mental illnesses account for around a third of all new incidences of work-related ill health in the UK.

 

Stats: The Health Service Executive (HSE) believes that in 2009/10 roughly 435,000 employees believed they were experiencing stress at work to a level that was making them ill. At total of 9.8 million working days were lost to work-related stress, depression or anxiety related ill health leading to an average of 22.6 lost working days.

 

Factors that can cause stress in the work place:

 

Work Overload – disproportionate workloads or working hours can increase stress levels, especially if they are the result of inadequate training or reductions in staffing levels.

 

Prolonged confrontation – violence, bullying, emotional abuse and harassment are all major causes of stress at work.

 

Bad management – lack of understanding or leadership from managers can exacerbate other problems. An overly autocratic management style can also make people feel powerless.

 

Poor job design – people can become stressed if they have no control over their job or if it unchallenging, unremittingly repetitive and monotonous.

 

Communication issues – stress can mount up if employees do not understand their role and responsibilities within the organisation or receive little feedback from their managers.

 

Methods of Tackling Stress.

 

There is no specific legislation dealing with stress at work, however, employees do have a general duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) to ensure that their employees' health is not put at risk – and this includes illness caused by work-related stress.

 

Fortunately, good management and a basic regard for the feelings of workers are often all that is needed to reduce stress levels.

 

Steps to take include:

 

  • Ensure that stress is taken seriously by both managers and staff. People should be encouraged to seek support and advice on stress without the fear of being stigmatised or belittled.

 

  • Work with employees and trade unions to draw up an anti-bullying policy. This should include formal procedures for reporting and investigating complaints.

 

  • Make sure that people are not being set unrealistic targets, workloads or deadlines. Job roles should be reviewed through performance monitoring and annual appraisals.

 

  • Involve staff in decision-making so that they are aware of how their job 'fits in' to the work of the whole organisation.

 

  • Help managers improve their communication skills and encourage them to respond promptly to employees concerns.

 

  • Allow staff to take regular rest breaks, especially when the work is complex or emotionally demanding.

 

  • Consider the physical environment – buildings that are poorly maintained, badly lit, overcrowded or excessively noisy can increase the stress levels of people working in them.

 

For more information on the HSE and the guidance they have produced to help employers tackel stress visit : www.hse.gov.uk/stress or contact us today for advice on 01538 394270 for a consultation on how we can help.

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