RIDDOR reportable ill health incidents have almost doubled in the last year. In 2014/15 stress accounted for 35% of all work related ill health cases and 43% of all working days lost due to ill health.
Stress can be a significant cause of illness and is known to be linked with high levels of sickness absence, staff turnover and other issues such as more errors. Work related stress develops because a person is unable to cope with the demands being placed on them. A staff survey can help you to determine which employees may be suffering with work-related stress along with absence information.
There are six areas of work (called the management standards) that can have a negative impact on employee health if not properly managed. When carrying out a stress assessment you should consider these six areas:
- Demands – this includes issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment.
- Control – how much say the person has in the way they do their work.
- Support – this includes the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues.
- Relationships – this includes 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 organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation.
If an employee were to indicate that any of the above were causing them problems then this should be reviewed and measures put in place to promote employee health and well-being and prevent illness resulting from stress.
Some examples of actions to improve employee well-being include:
- Giving specific groups of employees more control over aspects of their work.
- Improving communication up and down the management chain, and between groups.
- Management development, particularly in interpersonal skills.
- Job reviews/task analysis using the Management Standards as a framework.
- Updating a specific policy or procedure shown to have failings
By Rachel Hamill, Risk Adviser.