Employee Wellbeing - Reducing workplace stress
By taking a proactive approach to employee wellbeing and reducing workplace stress you can limit your chance of litigation and help reduce the costs associated with stress related sickness absence.
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”. This makes an important distinction between pressure, which can be a positive motivating force if managed correctly, and stress that can be detrimental to health.
Cost of stress to organisations
It is reported that the average cost of stress per employee per year is £19001 and costs UK organisations £12 billion per year2. After musculo-skeletal problems, psychological problems are the primary cause of sickness absence3 and at any one time: 1:6 (1:5 including alcohol & drug dependence) UK workers will suffer depression, anxiety or problems related to stress. The average employee absence for those suffering from work related stress = 22.6 days per year for anxiety and 30 days for depression4. NICE estimates that effective management of mental health in an organisation with 100 employees could save £250,000 per year. With this in mind now there has never been a better time to start addressing workplace wellbeing and reducing workplace stress within your organisation.
The law relating to stress
There is no specific law on stress. Instead it is mainly covered by the Health & Safety at Work Act (1974) and the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations (1999), although other acts such as Disability Discrimination Act 1995 & Amendments, Working Time Regulations 1998 & Amendments and Civil Law also come into play (for further details contact us)
Under the Health & Safety At Work Act (1974) both employers and employees have a responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of themselves and others. It is important that employees inform the employer if they are suffering from stress as a result of the workplace.
Management Standards - Reducing workplace stress
The HSE has developed a set of management standards to support organisations to reduce workplace stress.
These standards focus on 6 broad categories of risk factors that if managed properly will help your organisation comply with legislation and provide a positive working environment for your employees.
The Risk factor categories
- DEMANDS (workload & environment)
- CONTROL (choice over how work is done)
- SUPPORT (manager & peer, training, individual differences)
- RELATIONSHIPS (good/bad – e.g. bullying)
- ROLE (overload/ambiguity/conflict)
- CHANGE (need for as well as affect of ‐ how communicated/managed)
The HSE management standards are a set of goals for organisations to work towards based on each of the stress risk factor categories. They are listed as Standards and Goals - below is the standard for demands:
The standard is that:
- Employees indicate that they are able to cope with the demands of their jobs; and
- Systems are in place locally to respond to any individual concerns.
Goals to be achieved are:
- The organisation provides employees with adequate and achievable demands in relation to the agreed hours of work;
- People’s skills and abilities are matched to the job demands;
- Jobs are designed to be within the capabilities of employees; and
- Employees’ concerns about their work environment are addressed.
Full details on each of the 6 standards and the specific responsibilities managers have can be found on HSE website. Organisations should be aware that if they have 5 or more employees it is a legal requirement to have a stress policy in place (this can be built into your health and safety policy). For training on implementing the management standards or for more information on reducing workplace stress please call us on 07954 414222
To learn more about the benefits of employee health and wellbeing please visit our website: call 01202 987916/07954 414222or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
1 CIPD 2009, 2 HSE 2009, 3 CIPD 2009, 4 Sainsbury's Centre for Mental Health, 2007, 5 NICE 2009.