April is stress awareness month - you can prevent, reduce and manage stress in the workplace

6 April 2021

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What’s the problem?

The rate of work-related stress depression and anxiety has increased in recent years, and the last year has presented new challenges that have never been faced before.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of UK adults say that they have felt so stressed at some point over the last year that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.

It’s not just the people who feel this way that are impacted, it also has a big effect on business and our economy. Stress, depression or anxiety account for a huge 51% of all work-related ill health cases and 55% of all working days lost due to work-related ill health.

Recognising the signs of stress will help employers to take steps to prevent, reduce and manage stress in the workplace.

What should you do?

Employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it. The earlier a problem is tackled the less impact it will have.

If you already have a risk assessment in place, consider whether you need to re-assess the situation due to changes and challenges brought about by COVID-19.

Social distancing, working from home and all the other safeguards that have been put in place may have changed or created new stress. Stress affects people differently – what stresses one person may not affect another. Factors like skills and experience, age or disability may all affect whether an employee can cope.

Employees feel stress when they can’t cope with pressures, demands put on them and other issues.

Employers should match demands to employees’ skills and knowledge.

Six key factors to consider

Employers should assess the risks in the following areas to manage stress in the workplace. If not properly managed, they are associated with poor health, lower productivity and increased accident and sickness absence rates.

  • demands – workload, work patterns and the work environment
  • control – how much say the person has in the way they do their work
  • support – encouragement, sponsorship and resources available to workers
  • relationships – promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour
  • role – whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles
  • change – how change (large or small) is managed and communicated

Help and guidance is available

HSE has a range of practical support and guidance available including risk assessment templates, a talking toolkit to help start conversations, workbooks, posters, a new mobile app and a new automated stress indicator tool (SIT).

For more information visit the stress section of HSE’s website.

Workplace experts Acas also have lots of free resources to help employers, managers and staff support mental health.

This includes advice, e-learning and webinars offering advice on ways to effectively manage, provide support and minimise the impacts of negative mental health in your workplace.

You can also follow the conversation and get involved on social media, follow HSE on TwitterFacebook or LinkedIn.

Book a place at HSE’s online work-related stress course

Work-Related Stress: Developing Manager Capability
5 May 2021

HSE’s one-day online course is designed to increase delegates’ confidence and competence in managing individual stress-related cases and provide advice on fostering a supportive working environment.

To find out more and/or book your place(s)