Mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression have become a significant cause of long-term workplace absence in the UK; with (according to a recent CIPD Absence Management 2012 Survey) two-fifths of employers overall (52% in the public sector) reporting that stress-related absence has increased over the past year. Organisations cannot afford to ignore the knock on effect of mental wellbeing to their employee’s productivity; and ultimately their service levels and profitability.
Stress Management has never been more relevant than it is today.
So what can you do to ease the pressure? “Wellbeing at Work” needn’t cost the earth; small changes can be implemented by employers and managers to promote mental wellbeing in the workplace, with significant positive effects.
Including an increase in productivity, lower rates of absenteeism and quicker return to work after illness, fewer injuries in the workplace, improvements in communications, morale and working atmosphere, to a positive corporate image, positive action is a positive move for all concerned.
Here are our top tips for employers to promote “Wellbeing in the Workplace”
- Understand Stress vs. Pressure: Some employees are driven and thrive on pressure, but when the individual becomes unable to cope with that pressure, this becomes stress. This is where an employee is no longer in personal control and feels there is no way of regaining it, it’s essential to understand the difference.
- Write it down: As a responsible organisation you should have a written policy addressing stress in the workplace, advising how an individual can manage stress abd detailing your responsibilities as their employer. Remember under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 you must take measures to control the risks associated within the workplace; including stress. Click here for the ACAS Advisory Booklet – Stress at Work for more detailed information.
- Take the initiative: Why not perform a “stress risk assessment”? Find out who is feeling stressed, and in which particular areas of the organisation. This could be a simple questionnaire asking a representative sample of staff for their views on stress and how it is handled in the organisation. Remember a spike in sickness or absentee days is often the first indicator of stress in one part of the organisation, and patterns are a good indication that there is an underlying problem that needs addressing now. Click here for the HSE Management Standards Indicator Tool – a “ready to go” wellbeing questionnaire.
- Identify the causes: Among the common causes of stress are: excessive workload; an individual’s lack of control over their work; poor relationship with their management; a poor work/life balance; and the emphasis on fault-finding rather than encouragement. Bullying and organisational change are two more. HSE Management Standards for Work-related Stress provide a guide to best practices in dealing with each, to find out more click here.
It is essential employers understand their responsibilities and realise the need for encouragement for mental wellbeing to remain productive in a turbulent economic time.
To assist local employers understand “Absenteeism” more fully, White Horse Employment will be running an employment law seminar in January 2013 to address the topic. To register your interest in this seminar, email firstname.lastname@example.org.