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STRESS & WORK RELATED DISEASES


F EMPLOYEES SAID THAT T THEIR ORGANISATION


PECTED TO COPE UT MENTIONING STRESS.”


blaming others or feeling overwhelmed. The training involves teaching staff the importance of developing a positive attitude, understanding their feelings and why they’re having them, and cultivating feelings of optimism rather than a “glass half empty” outlook on their situation.


Other ideas employers could consider to help reduce staff stress levels include:


• Healthy initiatives: gym membership, encouraging healthy activities such as fun runs and walks, weight loss campaigns, and promoting reduction of caffeine consumption


• Stress awareness days: raising awareness and reducing the stigma of stress, management training days to help managers recognize signs of stress


• Work Life Balance Policy


• Change of procedure: ensuring all employees are kept fully informed of any internal changes and have them explained fully


• Making employees feel worthy and accomplished as well as enabling them to better manage their time


HELP STAFF HELP


stress will be taken seriously and not create further problems for themselves. Company Absence and Stress Policies provide clarity for both managers and staff alike.


It is also vital to ensure that staff are clear on their roles within the organisation, as stress often occurs when they are unsure of what is expected of them at work. In the same way, it is useful to offer some form of career planning. Professional advice regarding career paths helps staff to see ways to progress through an organisation and achieve their personal goals.


Some people are naturally more resilient to stress than others, but resilience can be taught through counselling and workshops so that difficult situations can be dealt with through action, rather than with anxiety,


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THEMSELVES There are many stress-busting techniques that individuals can initiate themselves to reduce their stress levels, such as yoga, meditation and regular physical exercise. It is also extremely useful for staff to interact with each other in and out of work hours to develop closer relationships whereby they can share problems and seek re- assurance from others who find themselves in the same stressful situations. Educating staff and encouraging their time together will benefit you as the employer in the long run too.


EMPLOYEE BENEFITS The government’s Health and Work Service, due to launch in the latter part of 2014, will give increased numbers of employees access to occupational health, and will, among other things, increase the help available for those suffering work- related stress.


One of the failings of the service, however, is its definition of early occupational health intervention. This is proven to deal more effectively with the root cause of employee health issues and reduce the chance of them re-occurring or becoming a long-term absence issue. The government is proposing occupational health referral after four weeks of absence, whereas Healthsmart, PSHPC’s unique absence management service, will refer an employee as soon as the employer is notified of an absence that may require occupational health intervention – such expediency is especially critical for stress-related conditions.


“EMPLOYEES NEED REASSURANCE THAT REPORTING CONCERNS ABOUT STRESS WILL BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY AND NOT CREATE FURTHER PROBLEMS FOR THEMSELVES.”


For organisations with very small healthcare budgets, Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) can be a very affordable, yet effective form of stress counselling for staff. Prices vary from one provider to another, but for a scheme of 50 staff, telephone counselling for £4.00 per employee per year would not be unreasonable. Alternatively you could offer each employee six face-to-face counselling sessions for £7.25 per employee a year or eight sessions for £8.25 (for schemes with very few employees this cost could rise).


If a company doesn’t have health insurance or an EAP programme but thinks staff need help with stress, they can refer them to charities such as Mind (www.mind.org.uk) and the Samaritans (www.samaritans.org), which offer free support for individuals and can also provide advice to managers on how to begin to tackle stress in their teams.


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