How Organisations Can Manage Stress Effectively in the Workforce

4 minute read | 06 November 2018 16:26:36 GMT

During International Stress Awareness Week 5-9 November, led by ISMA, (the International Stress Management Association), it is timely to focus on the topic of mental health and wellbeing particularly with the HSE's latest statistics. ISMA’s aim is to end the stigma that stress and mental health still carries in and outside the workplace. This short post reviews the HSE data on stress, depression and anxiety in the workplace in Great Britain and four approaches organisations can adopt to managing wellbeing effectively highlighted by CIPD.

Some HSE facts on Stress

The HSE latest injury and ill-health statistics are an alarming but probably unsurprising read with stress & mental health issues reaching the highest in 17 years in Great Britain.

  • Working days lost due to stress, depression or anxiety account for 57% of all working days lost due to ill health.
  • In 2017/18 there were 595,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety.
  • 15.4 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2017/18.
  • The industries with the higher than average rates of stress, depression or anxiety 2015 to 2018 are education, human health and social work and public admin/defence.
  • The rate of self-reported work-related stress, depression or anxiety has been broadly flat but in the last few years has been increasing.

4 Company Approaches to Mental Health and Wellbeing

For organisations to deal effectively with stress at work the main causes of stress need to be reduced but also employees’ resilience to pressures must be increased. The CIPD recommends four methods for organisations to adopt individually or altogether:stress-in-the-workplace-7

  1. Audit policies, procedures and systems to make sure employees’ wellbeing is protected in the working environment. Managers are able to identify team members affected by stress and offer a suitable level of support. Develop an implement a stress policy.
  2. Take a problem-centred approach to deal with issues occurring at work. Causes of stress among employees, reasons why stress has manifested itself and ways to solve occurrences of stress and anxiety. Doing risk assessments to establish sickness levels, employee feedback, reduced work performance can help understand the issues and develop a solution.
  3. Create a well-being approach to maximise employee wellbeing using the problem-centred approach but more proactively finding ways to create a health wellbeing culture for the workforce. This can include creating a wellbeing policy.
  4. Employee-centred approach where individuals are provided with support and guidance to help them deal with issues they face at work. Employees are offered counselling and education on how to identify and deal with stress and develop personal resilience with cognitive behavioural therapy etc. Managers also have training to learn to recognise early signs of stress and know how to support their team in the best way.

Prevention of employee mental ill-health by reducing sources of stress has become the goal for companies. Organisations need to ensure employees and managers are able to recognise early signs of a problem and are confident to take action as soon as possible. Early intervention by managers is essential to prevent any problems escalating among employees.

Learn more about a convenient learning experience for employees to use when they need it by clicking on the Stress & Wellbeing Toolkit an online resource companies can use with their employees:

Find out about the Stress & Wellbeing Toolkit

Dr Abi Lucas PsychD; PhD; CPsychol; AFBPsS

Abi is a highly qualified Clinical and Research Psychologist who has worked with psychological distress and management in a clinical, occupational and community setting for over 10 years. She works in the corporate sector providing one-to-one therapy and workshops on resilience and stress management. Abi has also provided neurodiversity assessments for these cases for work-placed reasonable adjustments to be made. She works to encourage and facilitate positive physical and emotional wellbeing of an individual both at work and in life.