Health & Safety News

News added on 09.11.2017



Workplace stress becoming a real worry

The HSE’s latest statistics show that 12.5 million working days were lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2016/17. What can you do to support staff and help to minimise the impact of workplace stress on your business?

The HSE’s statistics reveal that there were over half a million workers in the UK suffering from stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17. The HSE’s Management Standards set out an approach that aims to tackle stress throughout an organisation, and Acas has recently added new guidance to its website for managers on how to support workers suffering from stress. This includes advice on spotting the signs of stress, which can be illustrated by changes in the worker’s behaviour, mood and interactions with others, their standard of work and their attendance patterns.

Of course, stress can be caused by factors at work or outside of work, or a combination of the two. Acas recommends that if a worker reports that they think they are suffering from stress, their manager should set aside time to talk to the worker in private, and listen to what they have to say patiently and with an open mind. If possible, they should try to identify the causes of the stress. If these lie within the workplace, they should draw up a plan to address them, monitoring and reviewing the situation as with any other health and safety issue. The most commonly reported cause of work-related stress is workload, followed by lack of support, bullying and changes at work.

If the causes are external to work, you may still be able to offer support to reduce the stress on the employee. For example, by allowing the worker to work flexibly or reduce their hours while they are dealing with the causes of stress, and dealing with them sensitively in the workplace.

Early intervention helps to prevent long-term absences due to stress, so aim to foster an environment in which workers are able to raise mental health concerns. This can be done by making sure that managers deal with workers sensitively, listen to what they have to say and work proactively to help and support where possible.

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