Do you have employees who are suffering from work-related stress?
Check that you have systems in place to help people who think they’re beginning to suffer from stress. Who can they turn to? Is their privacy guaranteed? Are they likely to be heard? The Health and Safety Executive recommend that a risk assessment be carried out to help you identify both actual and potential problems.
Show that you’re aware of the problem by talking to staff and getting their views – you might even use a questionnaire to find out what the stressors might be.
Encourage all managers to have a consistent attitude, showing that they are open to individual concerns and will listen attentively, and privately, to any issues that arise.
Make sure that your employees are actually in the right jobs and sufficiently well-trained to do these jobs. Control over their work and clarity about what they’re supposed to be doing is essential to reduce stress in employees.
Encourage a good work-life balance. Spending too much time at work, or thinking about work, doesn’t give people the opportunity to relax.
Make sure that you’re communicating effectively with your staff. For example, lack of information about changes that are going to take place can make some people feel uneasy and thus increase their stress.
Involve your staff as much as possible in any improvements or changes that you want to make in your systems or procedures. They will often know the best way to implement these changes anyway, so including them in the decision-making process increases their sense of control and should ensure the changes stick.
Where possible, provide flexibility in the jobs that people do – either to do things differently, or to do different things.
Where an employee seems to be suffering from stress, encourage him or her to see their doctor. Brushing it aside and hoping it will get better won’t work! Nor will getting rid of the individual solve the problem if it’s endemic to the workplace.
Finally, accept the fact that stress is a real issue in the workplace and that it can lead to thousands of hours of downtime if not tackled. You have a legal responsibility as an employer to ensure that employees are not made ill by the work they do. If you act responsibly and with compassion you can reduce or eliminate the risks of stress. This will ensure that your people are happy, your organisation functions effectively and your organisational culture is positive and supportive.
Article by: Keith Dixon