The European Safety Agency in Bilbao has announced the theme of their next Health and Safety Campaign and it is called:

Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2014-2015 –

Managing stress and psychosocial risks at work

landingImage

Their leaflet on their website provides us with the following work-related stress and psychosocial facts:

  • Over half of European workers report that work-related stress is common in their workplace.
  • Around 4 in 10 workers think that stress is not handled well in their workplace.
  • Workers are likely to take a significant amount of time off work when suffering from work-related stress and other psychological problems, or turn up for work but not be able to function at full capacity.
  • Psychosocial risks and work-related stress give rise to significant costs for organisations and national economies alike.
  • The total costs of mental health disorders in Europe (both work and non-work related) are estimated to be EUR 240 billion per year.
  • Psychosocial risks can be assessed and managed in the same systematic way as other occupational safety and health risks.
  • Managing stress and psychosocial risks at work is worthwhile — the benefits to the business outweigh the costs of implementation.

The Campaign itself is due to begin on 7th April 2014 right across Europe.

There is a real business case to be made for tackling this issue and some of the facts to support this are:

  • The national costs of occupational stress in France were estimated at between 2 and 3
  • billion euros in 2007.
  • In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that around 9.8 million working days were lost during 2009–10 because of work-related stress, and workers were absent for, on average, 22.6 days
  • In Austria, psychosocial disorders have been reported to be the main reason why white-collar workers retire early, causing over 42 % of all early retirements among this category of workers.    Source: http://www.healthy-workplaces.eu/

The campaign site: http://www.healthy-workplaces.eu/  promotes a range of simple, user-friendly tools and approaches to assess and manage psychosocial risks in the workplace.

So what can be done about Stress and its effects in your workplace?

  • Management are the risk creators so they must eliminate or manage those risks as far as is reasonably practicable.
  • Managers need to work towards creating a climate of trust where which workers will feel comfortable about raising concerns e.g. the production department may be under pressure from the sales department but have never raised the issue before.
  • Line Management behaviour is a key issue – where managers are seen as supportive and take a personal interest in their employees, relationships improve.
  • Involve your employees in identifying the key stress issues and listen to their ideas about dealing with them.
  • The following issues tend to arise in all workplaces and need to be effectively managed:
    • Demand – e.g. long working hours, excessive workload, too little workload, boredom
    • Control – e.g. no control over pace of work, not able to use skills and initiative
    • Support – e.g. not enough resources to do the job, not enough support from manager or colleagues
    • Relationships – e.g. poor working relationships, harassment and bullying
    • Role – job insecurity, bad workstation design
    • Change – e.g. mergers, restructures, redundancies
    • Management need to be sensitive to the pressures employees have both in work and possibly outside (at home).
    • Managers as role models play a key role in demonstrating the behaviours that constitute good work practice e.g. not working incredibly long hours, not bringing work home etc.

To keep people in the workplace safe and healthy means to guard against physical as well as psychological ill health and also to promote the healthy way to work. All workplaces should be as safe from the invisible environmental hazards like stress as they are from the highly visible risks like chemicals and toxins.

We can‘t smell it, touch it or see it, but stress is a very real danger which employees must be protected against under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.

When stress management works it creates workplaces where workers report high job satisfaction and are challenged and motivated to fulfil their potential. For the organisation, this results in good business performance, low absenteeism and staff turnover rates.