Saturday, 12 January 2008

Organisational Stress Tips

Organisational Stress Tips

The effects of Organisational Stress:

Stress reduces morale, performance and productivity of the workforce.
Stress increases poor timekeeping.
Stress increases workplace absenteeism which has a knock domino effect on colleagues who have to cover.

Stress is a major contributor to staff turnover resulting in additional recruitment and retraining costs.
Insurance premiums increase with increased stress claims.
Litigation costs for stress claims are increasing.


20% (approx 5 million) workers feel very or extremely stressed at work (Bristol survey 1998-1999)

563,000 people are actually suffering from work related stress anxiety and depression. Second only to musculoskeletal disorders. (Household survey 2001/2)

Length of time taken off 29 days per case. (Household survey 2001/2)


Ill health from work - cost to Britain is £2.5 billion. Cost of stress to British industry is £350 - 370 million (1995 review)

Cost of stress to British society as a whole £3.7 - 3.8 billion.(1995 review)

Legal Implications

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act etc (1974) employees now have a legal duty to ensure health and safety is not at risk due to excessive and sustained levels of stress.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 employees are required to carry out regular risk assessments. This now includes risk assessments for work related stress.

Guidance from the HSE (June 2001) explains how stress should be tackled in the workplace following the HSE 5 step to risk assessment process.

To help organisations implement this the HSE have produced Management Standards and accompanying guidance. These Standards are not new legislation but are intended to help organisations fulfil their legal obligation.

So what can you do?

Following are 10 tips for managers to help reduce organisational stress:

1. Adopt the attitude that stress is not a weakness and try to develop this culture in your own department.

Nobody is perfect we all have too much pressure from time to time. Stress can affect anyone given an accumulation of circumstances. Foster the mind set that it is not a weakness to seek help if we are not coping- it is a strength to admit it and do something about it. Promote it as a developmental issue. Handling stress is a proactive intervention to prevent ill health of the employee and the organisation.

2. Ensure that you yourself are not suffering from stress.

A stressed manager has a “knock on effect throughout the organisation.” Dealing with your own stress will prevent your staff from suffering and results in a more relaxed and productive atmosphere.

3. Analyse your own management style and behaviour (honestly); ask is your management style causing any stress?

* Good management is the best proactive way of reducing organisational stress
* A good manager
* Ensures a realistic knowledge of the workload and the time it should take
* Sets individual work objectives and targets, consults and discusses before setting
* Gives clear effective instructions
* Makes sure he/she define roles and tasks adequately – discusses priorities
* In times of high workload prepares workforce for this
* Varies work where possible and provides opportunities for individuals to influence the way they do there jobs
* Delegates effectively (and not just the boring bits!!)
* Ensures staff have adequate training to do a good job. Coaches where training is not possible
* Gives fast feedback. Both positive and negative. Praises when appropriate. Does not shy from giving negative feedback. Gives constructive criticism when criticism is necessary
* Be approachable – really. Admits to own weaknesses and takes responsibility for own mistakes
* Be honest which of these could you improve upon?

4. Regularly do an informal risk assessment of your staff to check nobody is subjected to work related stress.

Think of yourself in your employees shoes. What causes your staff stress may be healthy pressure to you, but do not belittle it. Just because it is not a problem for you does not mean it is not a problem for them. Remember They may cope easily with issues that cause you stress.

5. Provide information to staff telling them where to go for help and what to do if they are suffering from stress.

6. Encourage staff to attend a personal stress management course or provide staff with tips to help themselves.

7. Carry out a risk assessment process to reduce stress in your department.

Familiarise yourself with the HSE guidelines for tackling work related stress.

* Determine the causes of stress in your organisation
* Communicate these to staff and involve staff in finding solutions
* Put an action plan into place and regularly review your progress making amendments where necessary.

8. Improve communication.

* Where possible keep workforce informed of all changes and major decisions
* Listen to your staff. Hear what they are saying
* Observe your staff, you learn a lot from watching
* Talk to your staff informally and regularly. It will be easier for them to come to you or for you to approach them if there is a problem.

9. Help your staff to cope with change no matter how big or how small.

* Before introducing change listen to views and opinions of staff. How will it be for them?
* Where possible update workforce on any changes taking place
* Explain the reasons for the changes
* Identify those who resist change and help them accept, listen to doubts and fears, explain, coach, boost self esteem
Check how things are progressing during and after change.

10. All in all create an environment that promotes well being.

Remember relaxed and happy employee will work more effectively thus increasing performance and productivity. This will inevitably result in increase the organisational performance.

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