Over 40% of respondents to the last Absence Management Survey reported that stress-related absence in their organisation had increased over the past year. However, only just over half are actually taking steps to reduce stress in the workplace. 40% reported an increase also in mental health problems (such as anxiety and depression) which often derive initially from stress-related issues. All in all, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that 9.9 million days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2014/15.
So what were the most common causes of stress?
- Non-work relationships
- Management style
- Relationships at work.
What is your responsibility as an employer in the workplace?
In the case of Sutherland v Hatton (2002), the Court of Appeal outlined their expectation of the employer to take reasonable and appropriate measures to prevent and address the issue, once they were aware of the situation. They must apply reasonable care to prevent injury, both physically and mentally, therefore taking proactive measures to reduce workplace stress.
What steps can you take to reduce stress at work?
- Communicate your absence and wellbeing policies to all staff.
- Monitor staff attendance and look for triggers that highlight an issue you could address before it becomes a problem.
- Monitor attendance by department and line manager so any issues which may be management related can be looked into.
- Look at departmental and seasonal trends to focus your efforts.
- Make services such as counselling available to staff helping address any issues early.
- Regularly review workload pressures.
- Conduct regular reviews and surveys to monitor staff wellbeing.
- Consider a flexible working policy – how would it work for your organisation?
- Provide focus with regular development and training opportunities.
- Considering providing training such as Mindfulness and Stress Management.
- Make sure your leaders are aware of the process they should follow if they become aware of an issue.
- Use an occupational health referral system so, when it is needed, staff can get the support they need. A quick turnaround can help that’s why all our occupational referrals get seen in 5 days.
- Make sure management are provided with leadership training to help promote relationships at work, reducing stress.
If you would like help with any of these points please get in touch. We can help with training, counselling, policies and occupational health. Our absence software system, SAM can also monitor and analyse absence by department, term and line manager, so just ask for a free demo. Just call 01924 827869 to discuss any service, our team will be happy to help.