Stress in the Workplace

Chamber member, Stepping Stones, provide a range of support services that promote mental health and well-being across West Dunbartonshire. The following information provides an introduction to stress, its impact in the workplace and what measures can be taken to tackle it.

Stress is defined as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them” (source: The Health and Safety Executive). HSE estimate that work-related stress costs about £3.7 billion a year (sources: ACAS). There are many reasons why businesses should care about stress in the workplace and some of these are listed below:

  • Employers have a duty of care for their employees.
  • Stressed staff are less productive.
  • Stressed staff are at risk of developing physical health problems.
  • Stressed staff may be unhappy at their work.
  • Working with stressed staff can raise the stress levels of other employees.
  • High stress levels can lead to absenteeism.
  • Staff absenteeism costs money.
  • Staff absenteeism can lead to raised levels of stress for those staff that are at their work.
  • Staff turnover can increase.
  • Stressed staff take more risks.
  • The cost of litigation is expensive.

But where do employers start? We are all aware that you can acquire an off the shelf stress management policy to complement your existing Health and Safety procedures. Some people may point out that, in the first instance, health and safety policy states that the employee is responsible for their own health and safety. Technically this is correct, however it does not take account of the insidious nature of workplace stress. Some employees may not realise that they are suffering from stress until the symptoms become exacerbated. Employers may also realise this after it is too late to do anything about it.


Prevention is better than cure?

In the current economic climate, we are all being asked to do more for less. Pressure is being mounted on all sectors of business and the pressure is on to remain focussed on the job in hand. In order for businesses to survive in the long term they don’t just need a healthy balance sheet. Employers will recognise the need to invest their resources in ensuring their staff have the opportunity to be the best that they can be.

What are the legal ramifications?

Employers have a legal duty to assess the risk of workrelated
stress and to take measures to control these risks. A few high profile cases over the years have shown the need for employers to be diligent in this area.
What can employers do?

There are many ways to support your employees and ensure that your business can reduce the effects of stress on them:

  • Carry out a workplace risk assessment.
  • Develop a long term plan that recognises the negative impact stress can have on the workplace and implement and evaluate this involving staff.
  • Set appropriate targets, i.e. reduce sickness absence, and increase job retention.
  • Utilise a specialist provider to assist you to support your staff and maintain a healthy workforce.

This list is not exhaustive and more guidance and support can be found within the pdf Stepping Stones have put together and which you can download here.

Stepping Stones

For more information or to contact Stepping Stones visit www.stepstones.org.uk - 0141 941 2929 - admin@stepstones.org.uk 

About the author

Chamber admin are responsible for the day to day running of the chamber, dealing with enquiries, membership as well as organising events and meetings.