As a Health & Safety Officer for a large company in the IT sector, we have had to tackle the issue of Stress Management at work and I wanted to share what should be done to reduce stress-related illness at work with everyone.

The HSE (Health & Safety Executive)recently launched a new campaign based on employers to manage stress at work for all employees which sent panic around many industry sectors.

Stress being explained as the “adverse effect people have to excessive pressure” summed up our assumptions of stress in the workplace with many people going off ill with stress but also G.P’s not knowing enough about the symptoms and ready to sign off people for weeks on end without a full diagnosis.

Employers need to be aware that stress is now classed as an accident at work and should be investigated fully, not just left at the doctor’s letter sitting in the HR in-tray.

Your employer should be looking for signs in their employees of stress like anxiety symptoms, heavy drinking has been linked to stress as people cannot deal with the pressure and turn to the bottle. Personal issues can have a dramatic effect on your working life, so managers should be approachable for issues and help out where ever they can.

Managers are responsible and should receive stress management training & how to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments on stress either in a generic format or personal risk assessment on individuals.

Implement the control measures trained, ensure excessive working times are eliminated, all holiday entitlement is taken, consider job rotation, give the employee scope to control the way they work(reasonable), reporting structure for stress and not feel penalized for this, whistleblowing on bullying & harassment and even consider confidential external counseling.

A strong stress management policy that is communicated to all employees is a good starting block for the management of this issue. If your employer is not doing the above then they are breaking the law and could be prosecuted.

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