HR sees work-related stress as a priority issue

HR
professionals continue to see absence management as their top health and safety
concern, but workplace stress is rising up their list of priorities, a study
reveals.

According
to a survey of more than 300 HR managers and directors, by IRS Employment
Review, two out of three employers agree that stress is more of an issue in
their organisation now than it was a year ago.

The
survey reveals that the top five wellbeing issues are: managing short- and
long-term absences (each 71.6 per cent of employers); stress (44.7 per cent)
musculoskeletal disorders; and accidents at work.

The
study also shows that managers cannot easily recognise the symptoms of
work-related stress. Only one in seven public service employers had confidence
in their management abilities to pick out stress.

It
finds that most employers have an open mind on whether most work-related stress
is genuine, but half of the respondents were undecided about whether most
work-related stress is genuine.

In
many organisations, staff are not confident about reporting stress. Only one
organisation in five surveyed agrees that their staff are sufficiently
confident to inform their line manager about work-related stress.

Mark
Crail, IRS Employment Review managing editor, commented: "Employers report
they are doubtful about the validity of stress but unless the issue is
addressed, absence from the workplace is more than likely to
increase." 

The
research shows that stress has increased in importance during the past 12
months across the private and public sectors; public sector employers are the
largest group to report that stress cases had challenged their organisation the
most last year.

The
study also finds that corporate safety liability is an increasing concern for
most employers.

By Ben Willmott

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