National Stress Awareness Day – 4th November

ID-10046971STRESS? WHAT STRESS?

The workplace  directly influences the physical, mental, economic and social well-being of workers and in turn the health of their families, communities and society. It offers an ideal setting and infrastructure to support the promotion of health of a large audience. In saying this, the health of workers is also affected by non-work related factors within society and the impact is brought into the working environment.

 

In the past, back pain was cited as the number one cause of absenteeism, now it is stress. There are two specific definitions of stress that are adhered to: ‘The adverse reaction a person has to excessive pressure or other types of demands placed upon them’  (HSE) and ‘That which arises when the pressure placed upon an individual exceeds the capacity of that individual to cope’ (CBI).

 

The stigma around mental ill health – which stress is recognised as such, has left individuals feeling reluctant to raise their hand and ask for help. Much more empathy and understanding is therefore required both in and out of the workplace to grasp the fact that what may trigger one person’s perception of a threat, is not necessarily the same for all.

 

The HSE Management Standards represent a set of conditions that, if present, reflect a high level of wellbeing and organisational performance, covering six key areas of work design that, if not properly managed, are associated with poor health and well-being, lower productivity and increased sickness absence:

 

  • Demands – this includes issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment.
  • Control – how much say the person has in the way they do their work.
  • Support– this includes the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues.
  • Relationships – this includes 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 organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation.

 

From a legal perspective, employers have a ‘duty of care’ cited in The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (NI Order 1978)  however, a counselling service does not  totally cover this alone.  Instead a proactive rather than reactive approach by the employer should be taken, by promoting education and awareness of stress and other mental ill-health issues in the health and safety workplace policy  (Intel v Daw, 2007 and O2 v Dickins, 2008).

 

The WHO Healthy Workplace Model cites that investing in health and wellbeing programmes show:

  • a productivity increase
  • a Return On Investment (ROI)
  • a reduction of health care costs
  • a phenomenon of attraction and retention of the best employees.

 

SO WHAT’S THE INCENTIVE FOR EMPLOYERS TO RECOGNISE HEALTH AND WELLBEING IN THE WORKPLACE?

 

Office of National Statistics  2012:

 

  • 131 million days were lost due to sickness absences in the UK in 2011.
  • In 2011, around 131 million days were lost through absences due to sickness or injury, (these figures include employees and self-employed, aged 16+, across the whole of the UK).
  • Stress has forced one in five workers (19%) to call in sick, yet the vast majority of these (93%) say they have lied to their boss about the real reason for not turning up.
  • The industries that reported the highest rates of work-related stress in the last three years were health, social work, education and public administration.
  • The occupations that reported the highest rates of work-related stress in the last three years were health and social service managers, teachers and social welfare associate professionals
  • Cost of Absence in the Public Sector is £800 per employee per year. Average number of absence days – 9.1
  • Cost of Absence in the Private Sector is £476 per employee per year. Average number of absence days – 6.4
  • Estimated annual cost to UK business : £13 billion

 

ORGANISATIONS THAT PROMOTE AND PROTECT WORKERS’ HEALTH ARE AMONG THE MOST SUCCESSFUL AND COMPETITIVE COMPANIES IN THE LONG TERM

 

Action Mental Health (AMH) provide a plethora of services for individuals living with mental ill health as well as expert-led awareness sessions for Schools, Communities and the Business sector.


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