Creating a Culture of Prevention

Work related stress isn’t going away. With the emphasis on lean organisations and high performing cultures, organisations are constantly trying to find ways of doing more with less. It’s not just a public sector issue, but is becoming more widespread amongst the private sector too.

‘Work-related stress is one of the most commonly reported causes of occupational ill health in Great Britain, accounting for 40% of all work-related ill health cases, and 49% of all working days lost due to ill health in 2016/17’

‘Over 12.5 million days are lost at work due to work-related stress and the overall economic cost to Great Britain is estimated to be over £5 billion’

Teresa May is encouraging employers to look at the issue of stress and mental wellbeing in her recently commissioned Stevenson Falmer ‘Thriving At Work’ Review

And a new White Paper from the HSE reminds us that we should be managing the issue more proactively in the workplace. You can find this report and many others in our resources library.

Putting our efforts into prevention will reap rewards in the future. When employees are off sick with a stress related absence they take longer to return to work than with other issues.

Stress is one of the HSE’s 3 strategic health priorities, and to that end it has initiated a specific campaign, Go Home Healthy.

If organisations can address the causes at work early on, they are more likely to impact on the level of work related stress that employees can suffer from.

The HSE are looking for a significant increase in the number of employers using stress risk assessment methodology to take a preventative approach to tackling work related stress. They want more HR and Health & Safety professionals trained in the HSE Management Standards approach, they want more cross-sector learning and they want a recognisition that prevention is better than curein making a contribution to the mental health agenda.

The paper reminds us of our legal requirements:

‘Employers have duties under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, to assess the risk of stress-related ill health arising from work activities; and under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, to take reasonably practicable measures to control that risk.’

It also reminds us of the HSE 6 management standards for work related stress that focus on the conditions of work. We find that a lot of employers don’t understand what these are about. They are about providing the conditions in which people can thrive at work:

  • Having JOB DEMANDSthat match the level of resource
  • Having CONTORLand autonomy over how you do your job
  • Having a clear JOB ROLEso that you know what you are doing
  • Having the right level and type of SUPPORT so that you can do what you need to do well.
  • Having good working RELATIONSHIPS that are free from negativity and/or bullying.
  • Having involvement with how CHANGEis being managed in your organisation so that you can be part of it and contribute to what the outcomes are.

The methodology for stress risk assessment at either the organisational (survey), team level (focus group) or individual level (conversation with employee) uses these 6 areas to ask questions around.

They HSE have a tool available to survey at the organisational level called the Stress Indicator Tool (SIT), which is now available in a digital version that allows the survey to be accessed and completed online. By surveying the organisation and running focus groups with teams in identified ‘hot spot’s employees are able to voice their opinion of what is causing them stress and work and what solutions could be put in place to improve conditions.

Organisations can use this information alongside other information on employee engagement, sickness absence, to monitor the effectiveness of the action plans that are implemented as a response to the survey.

If you would like your managers or HR professionals to be trained in how to conduct organisational, team or individual stress risk assessments, please contact us to find our more.

If you would like to know more about the range of workshops and consultancy on building resilience to change in your organisation, please contact Sara Rawstron
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