A fresh look at stress in the workplace

19 April 2021

Employers are being urged to take a fresh look at the work their employees do and to review the stress-causing factors in their workplaces.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), stress, depression or anxiety account for 51% of all work-related ill health cases and 55% of all working days lost due to work-related ill health.

Stress impacts on all sectors and businesses of all sizes, the HSE highlights, pointing out that employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it.

HSE Head of Stress and Mental Health Policy, Rob Vondy, said: “It’s well known that stress can make you ill. We know that work-related stress, depression and anxiety has increased in recent years, and the last year has presented new challenges that have never been faced before, and which may affect the workplaces of the UK for some time to come”.

Six key factors

Evidence shows that there are six key factors which, if not properly managed, are associated with poor health, lower productivity and increased accident and sickness absence rates.

These are as follows.

  • Demands: workload, work patterns and the work environment.

  • Control: how much say people have in the way they do their work.

  • Support: encouragement, sponsorship and resources available to workers.

  • Relationships: promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour.

  • Role: whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles.

  • Change: how change (large or small) is managed and communicated.

The HSE has introduced a range of practical support and guidance including risk assessment templates, a talking toolkit to help start conversations, workbooks, posters, a new mobile app and a new automated stress indicator tool.

For more details, see the HSE website.