HSE Stress at Work Standards – What employers need to know

Stress Management

What are the Management Standards for Stress at Work ?

The HSE Management Standards for Stress at Work cover 6 key areas of work design. if these areas are not managed properly they can result in poor mental health and wellbeing, lower productivity and increased sickness absence due to stress and other mental health related issues.

  • Demands – Includes issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment.
  • Control – How much say do the people have over the way they work?
  • Support – Includes encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues – (Look at accredited Mental Health First Aiders on site)
  • Relationships – Includes promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour.
  • Role – Do people understand their role within the organisation and does the organisation ensure roles are not conflicting?
  • Change – How is organisational change (large and small) managed and communicated?

For each Standard there must be systems in place locally to respond to any individual concerns. These Standards are aspirational and define a desirable set of conditions for organisations to work toward 

What Is Stress?

Why must we tackle work-related stress?

Stress Management at WorkWork-related stress is a major cause of occupational ill health which can cause severe physical and psychological conditions in your workers. It can also lead to poor productivity and human error, increased sickness absence, increases in accidents, high staff turnover and poor performance in your organisation.

HSE statistics show that work-related stress is a significant issue with more than 15.4 million working days lost as a result of stress, anxiety or depression at a conservative estimated cost of £5.2 billion to industry, individuals and the government.

In addition, health and safety legislation requires you to assess the level of risk from hazards in the workplace and to take all reasonably practicable measures to prevent or sufficiently reduce that risk. The purpose of the risk assessment is to find out whether existing control measures prevent harm or if more should be done.


Applying the Management Standards to your organisation

If you are using the Management Standards approach, it is important to understand how the Standards apply and translate to your workplace. This includes looking at how they fit into your existing risk assessment process. The six key areas of the Management Standards cover the primary sources of stress at work. They do not always act on their own but often they combine, overlap or interact. Consider the ‘job’ as a whole and avoid taking action on one element of work at a time as this may just move any problem further down the line – a global approach is likely to produce the best result.

There may be organisational ‘hot spots’ you want to concentrate on, but these can best be identified by carrying out a systematic risk assessment. Your aim is to find out the potential work causes of stress in your workplace and the likelihood of injury.

Good management practice

The Management Standards help measure how well you are managing the potential causes of work-related stress. Each Standard provides simple statements about good management practice in each of the six areas. These include the Standard itself and, in particular, the statements of ‘What should be happening?’

The Standards represent targets for the organisation, goals that employers should be working towards in an ongoing process of risk assessment and continuous improvement. The Management Standards approach aims to help identify where your organisation is in terms of performance and sets realistic targets for improvement.

It’s important for businesses and organisations to have trained Mental Health First Aiders to support staff displaying signs of mental health difficulties. Positive Psychology training such as Resilience & Assertiveness Skills can help mitigate risk of staff becoming so stressed it negatively affects the business.

Take a look the Skills Focus Training Free Trials of the Mental Health First Aid training and other positive psychology training courses available at https://skills-focus.org

Source: HSE Executive Management Standards Workbook