Recession prompts employers to focus on stress

The recession has prompted employers to increase their focus on and management of stress among employees in the workplace, according to a management survey published by Occupational Health’s sister title IRS and website ­XpertHR.

The survey found that more than half of the HR professionals surveyed felt the economic downturn had affected their organisation’s stress management measures. Nearly nine in 10 said they would step up activities to deal with rising levels of employee stress, although just four in 10 admitted to having provided training for stress management in the past 12 months.

This compared with more than two-thirds at the same point last year, suggesting that budgetary constraints and simply the distraction of having to deal with the recession might have meant day-to-day stress management had temporarily led to stress management dropping down the management agenda.

Two-thirds of the managers polled said that competent line management and training of line managers were the keys to effectively managing stress.

Organisations had a wide range of measures to prevent and manage work-related stress, with most employers polled introducing, on average, at least six different interventions to deal with stress at work, and at least eight responses for managing stress-related absences.

Rachel Suff, the report’s author and a researcher at ­XpertHR, said: “All employers offer a phased return to work, for example, while 81% make provision for one-to-one discussions between managers and team members about stress issues.

“Developing a framework like this means an employer is better equipped to respond to the individualised way in which employees can experience stress. One case of work-related stress can be very different from another, and therefore what is needed to encourage individual employees back to work will also vary,” she added.

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