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Stress at work

Dec 21, 2016
Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) - along with many other organisations - has commented on the link between the economic climate and the nation's mental wellbeing.



The organisation says that new figures from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development show that for the very first time, stress is the most common cause of long-term sickness absence for both manual and non-manual workers. When jobs are under threat, pay packets are being frozen and workloads are increasing, employees' mental health is bound to be affected.

So what can be done to reduce stress? Acas offers the following tips:

  • Remind yourself about the chief stressors at work - such as work overload, lack of job control and poor relationships - and what measures you can take to combat them. If you don’t already have one, put a policy in place to help recognise, and deal with, stress related problems.
  • Manage absence more effectively. You won't know how your employees are feeling unless you talk to them. The key to effective absence management is early intervention so make sure that, as a minimum, you hold return to work discussions.
  • Make sure line managers know how to respond to signs of stress. They may need the right training to deal with issues around bullying and performance management in particular and holding difficult conversations in general.

The causes and triggers of stress have always been present in the workplace and are not solely caused by current economic conditions. Employers have a duty under health and safety law to assess and take measures to control risks from work-related stress. Also under common law employers need to take reasonable care to ensure the health and safety of their employees.

Although work-related stress is not an illness, the psychological impact can contribute to problems with ill health. As well as anxiety and depression, stress has been associated with heart disease, back pain and gastrointestinal illnesses. Although the majority of UK workplaces do not have a serious stress problem, the incidence of work-related stress appears widespread as it’s estimated that over 13 million working days are lost per year.

Acas provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. Visit Acas’ website for more information and to view it’s advice guides: www.acas.org.uk.


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