Workplace Stress

Did you know that employers have a legal duty to protect all of their employees from stress in the workplace? Within this the employer must also have stress risk assessment in place while also acting on it!

If you have less than 5 employees you don’t have to have anything written down, but it is useful to have it written down so that you can review it periodically, for example if something changes. However, if you have 5 or more employees, you are by law required to have a risk assessment written down in a formal document.

How does my business go about creating a risk assessment?

Any risk assessment that is being created should be an easy to use document which outlines the main hazards and risks whilst also communicating how you are managing those risks.

The main thing you need to remember when creating a risk assessment is the 5 key points of a risk assessment which are:

  1. Identifying the hazards
  2. Persons at risk
  3. Evaluate the risk
  4. Recording and monitoring
  5. Review

What are the area’s that can affect stress levels in the workplace?

Within the workplace we have several area’s which can affect stress in the workplace. We call this HSE’s management standards, this categories sources of stress into groups to help those as employers where the stress risks of their business may be, These consist of the following:

  1. Demands
  2. Control
  3. Support
  4. Relationships
  5. Role
  6. Change

Within your risk assessment you could use these 6 areas as a guide to some of the hazards in your risk assessments and the steps you should take to control risks.

Spotting signs of stress

We have many different ways in which we can spot signs of stress. One of the main ways in which people feel stressed is due to feeling overwhelmed by the range of pressures they’re facing. However, stress effects each and every person differently. The best way in know how to spot signs of stress is by knowing what the common signs of workplace stress can be. These include:

  • Mood swings
  • Arriving late
  • Emotional – more sensitive or reactive to certain language
  • Taking time off
  • Change in appearance
  • Change in behaviour and attitude towards work and life in general
  • Change in motivation, confidence, and commitment

How can we as employers help employees who may be dealing with work-related stress?

There are many things, we as employers can do to help our employees who could be suffering from work-related stress. If an employee confides in you or one of your manager that they’re suffering from work-related stress, there are a we things we must consider:

  • If an employee is off work with stress, can we organise a phased return gradually so that they don’t become overwhelmed?
  • Can we amend their job role, so they don’t feel overwhelmed, especially if they are on a phased return to work?
  • Does the business have mental health first aiders?
  • Do we have the relevant stress risk assessments that all employee’s and the employer can refer too?
  • Depending on how long they have been off for should we be conducting a return to work interview?