There are many types of stress which can occur within the working environment; some types can even work out to be beneficial – such as the positive pressure which can create a ‘buzz’; but in most cases high levels of stress in the workplace can be a very negative factor both for the individuals enduring it, and the company itself. Research indicates that up to 12.8 million working days are lost each year due to stress, anxiety and depression. Each new case of work-related stress can lead to, on average, 29 days off work per year; costing society around £4 billion.
What is Stress?
According to the Health and Safety Executive, stress is: “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them”. Work-related stress itself is not an illness, but can contribute to many conditions such as anxiety and depression, which in turn can be associated with heart disease, back pain and even gastrointestinal illnesses. Work-related stress is more widespread than you might think – around one in five people in a study said that they found their work either stressful or extremely stressful.
What can be done to combat work-related Stress?
Employers have a duty under health and safety law to assess and take measures to control risks from stress. While it is very difficult to cure stress, it can be easy to prevent it in the first place. There are six main causes of stress in the work place:
Demands – the sheer amounts of work employees are expected to get through. To avoid this employers should make sure that employees understand what it is they are to do, and how they should do it, make sure that they are suitably trained and monitor their working hours
Control – whether employees are involved in outcomes. This can be managed by consulting employees about decisions, effectively building teams and reviewing performances to identify strengths and weaknesses.
Support – do employees feel supported? Absence levels can rise if employees don’t feel they can talk to their managers. This can be minimised by giving opportunities for people to talk to each other, management behaving in a sympathetic and supportive way, and keeping employees notified about the business.
Relationships – bullying can cause significant stress. Make sure that employees are clearly notified about how to report misconduct or any grievance, and that any issues are dealt with swiftly.
Role – employees need to know what is expected of them. A clear and thorough induction and training process will make new employees feel part of the team more swiftly.
Change – must be managed effectively. Change can cause issues if not managed properly. Clear communication and planning ahead will minimise disruption when going through times of change within a business.
What if you have suffered from work-related stress?
If you have been the victim of work-related stress and it can be proved that your employer was made aware of the fact, and yet did nothing to assist in the management of that stress, then you could be entitled to compensation. Contact one of our experienced solicitors today to see if you have a case.