Dealing with stress in the workplace

As an employer you have a duty of care for your employees to reduce any risks in your workplace that might cause stress.
It’s common for many people to experience a feeling that they cannot do their job properly, whether due to workload, timescales or feeling under-qualified. Stress is the most common reason for long-term absence from work, according to the Absence Management Survey, produced by the CIPD, with many organisations reporting extremely high levels of absence.
Being stressed is different to being under pressure; many employees can work well under pressure if they have the appropriate qualifications for the task they’re performing and when you provide the right support. It’s the inability to deal with pressure that causes people to become stressed.
It is estimated that sickness absence costs British businesses £26bn each year in lost productivity – while the damage it can do to the quality of our lives is an even higher price to pay. Yet, by adopting simple strategies it’s possible to at least recognise the symptoms and attempt to deal with them.
So, consider the following: have you implemented a stress policy? Do your managers understand their part in dealing with stress in the workplace? Do you offer counselling services?
The HSE has recommended that companies adopt "management standards" when dealing with stress in the workplace. It covers six key areas of work responsible for stress, which are:
  • Demands– such as workload, work patterns and the work environment.
  • Control – such as how much say the person has in the way they do their work.
  • Support – such as the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues.
  • Relationships – such as promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour.
  • Role – such as whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles.
  • Change – such as how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation.
Evaluate your employees’ workplace situations and make an action plan that will reduce the risk of stress. Solutions might involve; offering more flexible working hours, written clarification of an employee’s roles and responsibilities, setting up new channels of communication and providing regular meetings.
For more advice on staff development and retention read Page Personnel’s discussions on the importance of staff retention and the importance of leadership in effective team building.