Workplace stress

Workplace stress is the adverse reaction people have to inappropriate pressures or other types of demands being put upon them.

It is important to recognise that:

  • reasonable pressure and challenges faced by staff can be stimulating and motivating but that excessive pressure can start to have a detrimental effect on individuals
  • failing to use the potential skills and experience of staff can also result in detrimental effects on individuals

Sources of stress

  • demands – issues like workload, work patterns and the work environment
  • control – relates to how much say the person has in the way they do their work
  • relationships – relates to promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour
  • change – relates to the management and communication of large or small changes within the organisation
  • role – relates to ensuring individuals have a clear understanding of their role and that there are no conflicts within it
  • support, training and factors unique to the individual – relates to the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided

Prevention of stress

As staff members

We must:

  • report any areas of concern, ideally, directly to our line managers or through one of the internal support networks or if the other routes are not suitable through our Trade Union
  • be supportive of colleagues if we think they are showing signs of stress and
    encourage them to report the area of concern and seek support
  • try and stay positive looking for ways to solve problems rather than worrying about them
  • consider ways of improving our time management skills
  • develop coping strategies and methods for alleviating symptoms that reduce the
    impact of stress on us as individuals
  • be realistic and self aware – if it is the nature of the work or the job that is affecting us we should think about changing jobs
  • think about our lifestyle choices – eat more healthily, stop smoking, watch our alcohol and caffeine intake, take exercise
  • seek the support of our family and friends where possible

As line managers

We must:

  • accept that excessive pressure can result in stress and that people are affected by it at different times and to different degrees
  • set a good personal example by being receptive and responsive to staff concerns
  • assist and support staff through addressing their individual and learning and development needs in relation to their job
  • investigate and respond to all reported occurrences of workplace stress, whether employee absence is involved or not
  • ensure records and statistics are kept of stress related absences
  • as part of health and safety management use the Workplace Stress Management
  • standards as the basis for carrying out a risk assessment on stress in the workplace.
  • make staff aware of the results of the risk assessment and the arrangements put in place to prevent and manage stress
  • monitor and review the effectiveness of the arrangements, making amendments where necessary
  • review our own performance against the HSE/CIPD competence framework for managing the potential for workplace stress