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Stress Awareness Month: businesses offered help to support employees

NO less than 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, according to the Mental Health Foundation.

And in Stress Awareness Month, the Health and Safety Executive are offering advice to prevent, reduce and manage stress in the workplace.

A spokesperson said: “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.

“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 employers should 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 they already have a risk assessment in place, they need to consider whether 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

“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.”

Six key factors to consider:

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

“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 the workplace.

“People can also follow the conversation and get involved on social media – follow HSE on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.”

Online work-related stress course

“An online work-related stress course, Work-Related Stress: Developing Manager Capability, is being held on May 5.

“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 a place(s) visit this link.

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