Managing Stress: Whatever it takes
We’ve talked before about stress being a major cause of sickness absence in the workplace. It affects individuals, their families and colleagues by impacting on their health but it also impacts on employers with costs relating to sickness absence, replacement staff, lost production and increased accidents.
So what can you do to ensure managing stress and mental health is at the forefront of your organisation, and at the same time meet your legal requirements? The HSE’s Management Standards approach to tackling work-related stress establishes a framework to help employers tackle work-related stress and, as a result, also reduce the incidence and negative impact of mental ill health.
By taking action on work-related stress, either through using the HSE Management Standards or an equivalent approach, employers will:
start to form a mental health at work plan
promote communications and open conversations, by raising awareness and reducing stigma
provide a mechanism for monitoring actions and outcomes
The Management Standards approach to tackling work-related stress uses a clear step-by-step method which includes. It covers six key areas of work design that, if not properly managed, are associated with poor health and wellbeing, lower productivity and increased sickness absence. In other words, the Standards cover the primary sources of stress at work. They are:
Demands: Includes issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment.
Control: How much say do people have over the way they work?
Support: Includes encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues.
Relationships: Includes promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour.
Role: Do people understand their roles within the organisation and does the organisation ensure roles are not conflicting?
Change: How is organisational change (large and small) managed and communicated?
Each Standard provides simple statements about good management practice in each of the six areas. The Standards represent targets for your organisation, goals that you should be working towards in an ongoing process of risk assessment and continuous improvement. The Management Standards approach aims to help identify where your organisation is in terms of performance and sets realistic targets for improvement.
To effectively implement the Management Standards, or any other appropriate approach, it is essential that you ensure the resource, support and infrastructure for the project is in place in your organisation.
If you feel like stress and mental health need to become a more focal part of your health and safety policy, and business culture, contact us here to find out how we can help you achieve this.