21 December 2016

Workplace Wellbeing and Stress Management Strategy – An employer’s checklist

Maintaining a healthy and happy workforce is in every employer’s interest, not only so that productivity levels are retained, but because well-being and stress management are within the overall ‘duty of care’ that an employer owes employees.

With a significant increase in stress-related absence in the workplace – according to the CIPD’s 2015 Absence Management Survey, two-fifths of respondents said stress-related absence in their organisation had increased over the last year – this is an issue that employers need to address today. Yet, worryingly, less than three-fifths of respondents said they are taking steps to identify and reduce workplace stress.

The ability to manage stress, of course, relies heavily on maintaining good, positive mental health. Mental health is a state of wellbeing in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.

To maintain positive mental health, it’s therefore important to address the causes of stress, the most common causes of which are said to be workload, followed by non-work relationships/family, management style and relationships at work.

It is important to note that mental health is quite different from mental Illness, which is a formal diagnosis of a mental disorder. Should an employee be suffering from any form of mental disorder, employers need to take a very different approach, which we discuss in our Managing Stress and Mental Health in the Workplace advice guide.

To help employers maintain a healthy and happy workforce, below are some good steps to take: 

  1. Deal with signs of stress in the workplace – e.g. undertake a policy, procedures and systems audit to identify areas for improvement, and create a culture that supports wellbeing (points 2-9)
     
  2. Create a positive work culture, with a clear vision and purpose – this could include addressing organisational management structures; providing training and development; reviewing terms and conditions; and having honest conversations about job security and organisational change
     
  3. Identify the causes of stress in the workplace, and be proactive with employees by
    - Stating that it’s OK to admit to feeling stressed or overwhelmed
    - Starting with an honest conversation
    - Ensuring line managers have the right skills to provide support and help
     
  4. Reduce or remove the causes of stress in the workplace
    - Identify what is causing the stress e.g. issues at home or problems at work. If at work, look at what you can do to reduce or remove stress
    - Find a solution that works for the individual and the company
    - Consider all options, such as a change to hours, a less stressful role, daily support to manage the in tray
     
  5. Set appropriate goals – ones that play to an individual’s strengths and are achievable
     
  6. Promote wellbeing and good physical and mental health in the workplace – for example, consider flexible working practices and wellbeing plans, for example encouraging a healthy work life balance; educating on and promoting healthy living; support healthy living initiatives such as monthly healthy challenges, subsidised gym membership, support to stop smoking
     
  7. Provide support – such as making it clear to staff and managers how they can seek help or flag concerns
     
  8. Get the right advice – don’t tackle any sensitive issues alone
     
  9. Communicate, communicate, communicate – employees need to know that their health and wellbeing is being considered and that they have opportunities to raise concerns about stress without any negative recourse

By tackling the issue head on, stress among employees will undoubtedly reduce and then everyone – employees, management, and the business – will truly thrive.

For more information contact becky@hrnow.je or call on 01534 747559

To print a copy of this check list, download the document below.

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Workplace Wellbeing Stress Management - Employer's checklist.pdf

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