How can I protect my employees from work-related stress?

How to Protect Employees from Work-Related Stress? | Griffiths & Armour

The effects of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak on our mental health is well documented, as the lockdown and social distancing measures continue to create fear and anxiety that impact upon our stress levels.

The Mental Health Foundation’s 2018 study found that, on average, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. This can have a negative impact on our day-to-day lives including our performance at work, home life and self-esteem.

What is stress?

Stress is the body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. This pressure can come from different aspects of your day to day life such as an increased workload, a transitional period, arguments in your household or new and existing financial worries.

During these situations, you may feel threatened or upset and your body might create a stress response. This can cause a variety of physical symptoms, change the way you behave, and lead you to experience more intense emotions.

We all respond to stress differently, and although we are likely to feel stressed sometime in our life, some people find stress helpful or even motivating. However, if stress is affecting your life, there are things you can try that may help. Too much stress can affect our mood, our body and our relationships, especially when it feels unmanageable.

What are the signs of stress?

Individuals often exhibit warning signs when they are struggling to cope, and all staff should be trained to recognise these to aid early identification of an issue. These signs can be categorised as behavioural, work performance and physical signs. We have listed some examples below:

  • Feelings of constant worry or anxiety
  • Irritable
  • Mood swings or changes
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Declining or inconsistent performance
  • Uncharacteristic mistakes

How can I protect my employees from work-related stress?

There are some actions your organisation can take to manage signs of stress and identify, reduce and remove stressful factors that may cause your employees to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope.

Organisations have a legal duty to protect their employees from stress at work by undertaking an appropriate risk assessment and acting upon it. The HSE has developed a set of Management Standards that identify six areas of work design factors that can affect stress levels which are listed below.

Demands & Workload
Issues such as size of workload, work patterns, deadlines, work environment, long working hours and work/life balance.

The extent to which employees have any control or input into their duties or responsibilities.

The level of management commitment to promoting wellbeing. This includes the encouragement, support and resources provided by the organisation, management and colleagues.

The promotion of positive relationships between colleagues, management and customers. This includes prevention of bullying, harassment and addressing conflict and unacceptable behaviour.

Clarity of an individual’s role, responsibilities and career path.

Effective management and communication of organisational change whether real or perceived.

It is recommended that for each of the six sources of stress, staff should be consulted, and the existing control measures assessed. Best practice is for risk assessments to be reviewed at least annually and/or whenever there is reason to believe that it is no longer valid. This can include revised work processes; changes in workloads; alterations to working hours; organisational restructuring; and/or an instance of stress has been identified.

The excerpt above is taken from our comprehensive Wellbeing guidance available via RMworks designed to help organisations to minimise risk and reduce cost.

We are always interested to hear your views so if you have any questions or comments on this article, please get in touch with your dedicated insurance broker at Griffiths & Armour or alternatively, press the button below: