Figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), stated that work related stress accounts for one in three incidents of ill health, among workers. In addition, each case of ill health that is caused by stress in the work place, can lead to the employee taking a month off from work.
Previous reports from the Psychological Work Conditions survey stated that around 17.1 per cent of British employees stated that their jobs were either extremely or very stressful.
Helen Toll, the health and safety consultant, Norwich Union Risk Services, says that the Samaritan’s Stress Down Day on 6 February was an important reminder that stress remains a very real issue, particularly in the current economic climate.
“Stress doesn’t just affect the individual; it can have a detrimental impact on a business as well. It can lead to high levels of sickness absence, increased staff turnover and poor morale, all of which can all have a knock on effect on a company’s reputation and customer satisfaction.”
Credit crunch effects biting into employment figures
With the credit crunch and recessions biting into the UK economy, several people have seen themselves out of work. This could put increasing pressure on employed workers, to work harder, so that their job and their employer can keep on trading and remain in existence.
However, there are some practical tips that employers need to take into consideration in relation to managing stress in the workplace, according to Toll: “Employers should establish a clear policy on stress management and other issues such as dealing with workplace harassment and bullying and violence to staff, which can be significant workplace stressors, she said.
Toll added that: “Stress should be treated like any other workplace hazard. A risk assessment should be carried out, both at organisational level and within each team.
“It is important to work closely with employees and their representatives to identify the main sources of workplace pressure and develop realistic and workable solutions that proactively tackle the underlying causes of stress.”
Two way effort to limit stress
Toll suggested that it is a two way effort, between both the employers and employees that will bring the benefits of any stress management programme and that both parties should be equally informed about the causes and effects of stress in the work place.
Toll said: “The Key to the successes of stress management programmes are senior management commitment, employee participation and the competence of line managers. It is essential that managers are provided with guidance and training in how to recognise the signs and symptoms of stress and understand the causes.
“They need to be clear about their role in stress prevention and management, know how to assess the risks and deal sensitively and supportively with employees who are struggling to cope.
She concluded by saying: “Employers should provide additional support for employees experiencing stress. This could be through the business’s HR department or occupational health professionals. Providing access to confidential counselling services is also recommended.”