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Being Proactive: An Organisational Approach to Managing Workplace Stress

Being Proactive: An Organisational Approach to Managing Workplace Stress

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Being Proactive: An Organisational Approach to Managing Workplace Stress

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  1. Being Proactive: An Organisational Approach to Managing Workplace Stress I/O Net Presentation by Dr Hillary Bennett Director, PsychAssessments

  2. Healthy Work: Managing Stress in the Workplace. (2003) “ Creating a healthy and safe workplace requires employers and employees to work systematically together to identify hazards and manage them”

  3. Stress an integral and inevitable feature of most contemporary workplaces Workplace stress arises when individuals perceive an imbalance between the pressures and demands made on them and the resources they have to cope with these demands

  4. Managing Stress in the Workplace • Traditional view • Stress the responsibility of the individual • Organisational view • Employers and employees have a responsibility to address work-related stress

  5. The HSE Amendment Act 2002 Objective: To promote the prevention of harm to all persons at work through the systematic management of hazards

  6. HSE Amendment Act 2002 holdsEmployers Responsible for • Implementation of effective systems for identifying existing and new hazards, including work-related stress • Systematic management of hazards, by eliminating them, isolating them or minimising them, in that order of preference. • Provision of opportunities for employee participation.

  7. 3 Approaches to Tackling Work-related Stress • Prevention • Identifying and acting on the causes of stress • Stress Risk Assessments • Management • Giving staff the skills to cope / manage • Treatment • Professional medical and psychological support

  8. Stress Risk Assessment - A Preventive Approach SRA aims to identify: • The level stress (the harm) • The main sources of work-related stress (the hazards) • What practicable steps can be taken to eliminate the sources of stress (hazards), if possible

  9. An International Perspective • An international review of stress prevention in the workplace highlights that there has been a lack of systematic Stress Risk Assessment (Kompier and Cooper, 1999). • TheUK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Guidance recommends that a risk assessment approach be followed when tackling work-related stress

  10. Step 1: Identify Hazards What might cause harm? Step 2: Evaluate Harm Who could be harmed, and how? Step 3 (a): Evaluate Risks How likely is it that the hazard could cause harm? Step 3 (b): Introduce controls What can we do to reduce the risk that hazards will cause harm? Steps to Risk Assessment Step 4 & 5 - Record and Re-Assess

  11. Comparison of a Risk Assessment With a Stress Risk Assessment

  12. Stress Risk Assessment Process • Planning and Consultation • Data Collection Qualitative methods e.g. interviews, focus groups, Stress Diaries Quantitative methods e.g. structured surveys, StressTools • Data Analysis 4. Feedback and Action Planning

  13. StressTools A Tool for Tackling Work-related Stress • StressTools aims to help organisations identify and manage work-related stressors. • StressTools takes a preventive approach emphasising removing work-related stressors rather than treating stress symptoms • StressTools developed by the Keil Centre with the assistance of Birbeck College and local industry • StressTools won the European Health and Safety Best Practice Award.

  14. StressTools3 Work Stress Risk Assessments(SRA) • Task-based SRA • Team-based SRA • Future-focused SRA

  15. Task-based SRA • Identify and control stressors and other human factors hazards arising from an unusual, complex or hazardous task • To be included in pre-existing Risk Assessment process • Emphasises links between stress and safety • Tackles stigma associated with mentioning stress

  16. Future-focused SRA • Involve cross-section of employees identifying work-related stressors likely to be associated with a future project or organisational change and planning preventative measures • Focuses on preventing future work-related stress • Relevant to major projects or organisational changes • Identifies relevant work-related stressors through employee involvement • Can be tailored to local circumstances • Identifies actions to prevent / manage future sources of work-related stress

  17. Team-based SRA The team-based SRA method, which identifies levels and sources of stress in teams doing similar work in organisations and identifies locally relevant solutions through employee involvement is particularly relevant in light of the changes to the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Act 2002.

  18. Team-based SRA Involves 4 Steps….. Step 1. Evaluating harm . Measures team members’ perceptions of level of work- related stress and benchmark levels of stress with other groups Step 2. Identifying the hazards. Assesses which work- related stressors are causing stress, using a generic (40 predefined) and locally relevant work related stressors. Identifies the main work-related stressors affecting team members now or in the recent past Step 3. Evaluating risks. Assesses what are the most significant sources of stress for team members and describing these sources in more detail. Step 4. Introducing controls. Identifies what can be done by management or team members to prevent and manage work-related stress

  19. Conducting a Team-based SRA • Train project organiser / working team • Needs to be well-respected by the team • Important to maintain confidentiality about employees opinions about stressors and levels of stress • Prepare for the team-based SRA • Use cross-section of employees to identify local work-related stressors • Customise the team-based SRA • Identify sub-groups • Choose comparison group for benchmarking purposes • Add local work-related stressors • Add additional questions. Questions need a yes no answer format • Collect data • Paper workbook / on-screen option

  20. Results of Team-based SRA • Stress levels • Stress comparisons with benchmark group • Stress exposure - % of people in each group which indicated that each stressor was “often” of “always” a source of stress • Stressors high- low • Ranked stressors – significance of stressors • Movement • Written comments on main sources of stress

  21. Workload Job Insecurity Teamworking Performance feedback Training & development Hours of work Job design Management support Tools and equipment Communication Role ambiguity Skill under-utilisation Work-life balance Effort-reward imbalance StressTools14 Management Standards Providing Guidance on How to Prevent Work-related Stressors

  22. Each Management Standard Includes… • A definition of the stressor • How the stressor can cause individual harm and organisational harm • How to identify if problem exists now or may do so in the future • Management practices that may prevent or resolve these problems • A table which includes: • “States” which describe a well-managed organisation, in relation to this stressor • A space to record current organisational practice, enabling a gap analysis to be done • Examples of the types of best practice which exemplify the “state” • A space to record next steps/actions

  23. International Research Shows • Most of the activity in the field of stress management has focused on reducing the effects of stress rather than on reducing the presence of stressors at work. • Most activities are primarilyy aimed at the individual rather than the organisation. • Concluded that successful management of stress requires intervention at both an individual and organisational level.

  24. Benefits of Stress Risk Assessment • Signals to employees that the employer is being proactive and serious about managing stress in the workplace. • It ensures that subsequent stress-related activities aimed at management or treatment are targeted at specific problems and specific individuals. • Provides a tailored approach to managing stress rather than a “pray and spray” approach. In the long term it is more effective in terms of costs and time.

  25. In Conclusion Compared to other stress management techniques The risk assessment approach to stress is likely to more effective, as the source is being addressed rather than the symptoms It is a proactive

  26. Stress Management = Good Management andGood Management = Stress Management