A common, and often justified complaint from the HR profession is that new
workplace rules are introduced following insufficient consultation with
But that accusation can hardly be levelled at the Health and Safety
Executive (HSE) in its approach to developing its stress management standards.
As well as piloting the draft standards with a group of public and private
sector employers, the regulatory body is now seeking HR professionals’ views
about issues involved in managing stress at work through a joint survey with
The study will seek to reveal the extent of the problem of work-related
stress across different sectors, some of its main causes and its impact in the
It will also highlight employers’ view on the barriers to managing stress
effectively – and the potential solutions.
Elizabeth Gyngell, head of the HSE’s better working environment division,
has pledged that the results will be used to fine tune the standards, and will
contribute to the final consultation this autumn.
Gyngell says the HSE’s approach to tackling work-related stress is based on
listening and engaging honestly with those who want to find solutions. However,
the HSE proved that it is willing to take action on stress when it issued an
improvement notice against an NHS trust last month under the Health and Safety
at Work Act.
Employers have been left in no doubt that managing stress can no longer be
regarded as a luxury – those that do not take the stress management standards
seriously are likely to feel the force of the HSE’s iron fist inside its velvet
Motivating the workforce
As employers strive to improve productivity, one of the biggest challenges
they face is how to engage and involve staff in the running of the business.
Elaine Way, president of the Association of Healthcare Human Resource
Management, believes more needs to be known about what motivates staff and
boosts morale, and has instigated a major research project on the issue across
the health service.
She thinks that managers who are able to trust their staff and give them
responsibility will reap the benefits in the long run in the form of a more
enthusiastic, engaged and creative workforce. It is hard to disagree with her
that good people management is about becoming a leader of leaders rather than a
leader of followers