A risk assessment should be the cornerstone of any stress-at-work policy
There has been a huge rise in the number of claims for stress, said chartered health psychologist, Dr Claire Welsh, in a paper on stress-at-work policies.
Research suggests that one fifth of the British population is highly stressed at work, and the HSE estimates that 6.5 million working days are lost each year due to stress-related illness, despite a growing awareness by employers of the importance of tackling the problem.
In her examination of why current stress policies are not working, Welsh found that there is much more to stress management than merely putting stress counselling in place, as then it is often a case of "picking up the pieces".
She advocated an integrated policy, tailored to the business needs of the organisation, that wins the key stakeholders in the organisation over to the policy.
OH should adopt a partnership approach with other professionals in the implementation of the stress policy, develop clear objectives and ensure the policy complies with latest legislation.
Welsh says a stress-at-work policy should be well communicated to integrate it efficiently into the business, and monitored regularly to ensure that any necessary amendments are made.
It was vitally important to put risk assessment at the cornerstone of any policy, said Welsh, as it is only when we look at the causes of stress that it can be managed.