Ergonomics and Human Factors

Stress at Work

What is Stress at Work ?

Work-related stress is defined by the Health and Safety Executive as “a harmful reaction that people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work”. The most frequently reported causes of work-related stress include pressure from work, lack of managerial support and work-related violence and bullying.   Factors that are associated with increased workplace stress include changes at work including downsizing and changes to responsibilities held; poor interpersonal relationships at work; and difficulties with managers. These can impact on your employees and your organisation:

  • Employees – work performance, physical and mental health and wellbeing, relationships.
  • Organisation – lost working days, low morale, and reduced performance.

Official statistics suggest that the number of people reporting stress, anxiety or depression has not decreased in recent years, with at any one time over 400,000 people in Britain reporting that their mental wellbeing was affected by their work.  In fact, the most recent statistics now show stress at work to be a bigger cause of workplace sickness absence than musculoskeletal disorders. In the UK in 2015/16 stress accounted for 37% of all work related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health. This equates to an average of 23.9 days lost per case.

What can we do for you ?

IOM ergonomists and psychology professionals can advise on:

  • Use of the HSE Management Standards to identify and solve local problems;
  • The use of online surveys to assess the levels of organisational stress while maintaining complete confidentiality for participants;
  • Advice on work organisation to maximise wellbeing at work.

What will the benefits be ?

Organisations can be negatively affected by stress in a number of ways, however by managing and reducing stress employers can find:

  • Increased productivity;
  • Reduction in accidents;
  • Reduced employee turnover;
  • Reduction in absence occurrence and length.

What have we done before?

Our work in this area has included a review for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on workplace interventions that promote mental wellbeing in the workplace. The report for this is available: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/PH22/documents/promoting-mental-wellbeing-at-work-final-report2

Other research work in this area includes a study prepared at the request of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs of the European Parliament (EMPL) on stress-related and psychological problems associated with work. The report for this is available http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/etudes/join/2013/507455/IPOL-EMPL_ET(2013)507455_EN.pdf

The IOM has prepared guidance with The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) on managing stress and psychosocial risks. This e-guide was designed to foster awareness, understanding and management of these issues. The e-guide is available here https://osha.europa.eu/en/tools-and-publications/e-guide-managing-stress-and-psychosocial-risks

IOM has also carried out workplace stress surveys in a range of companies using the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Stress Management Standards http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/standards/

 

If you have an enquiry about our ergonomics and human factors services please send us an email at ergonomics.humanfactors@iom-world.org

Alternatively telephone Dr Joanne Crawford on 0131 449 8037