Stressing the positive is the key to improved productivity

Stressing the positive is the key to improved productivity

The Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) Management Standards provide an excellent framework from which to start to tackle the problems of work-related stress.

The six standards – Demands, Control, Support, Relationships, Role and Change – are the essential elements that all companies can use to tackle stress across the workforce, and each states what needs to be achieved to meet each standard.

Companies can easily measure levels of stress within their organisation by conducting an employee survey based on the six standards.

Some organisations will not have stress-related issues. For others, stress may be a big problem.

However, to understand which elements of the standards are the key drivers of stress, companies must first of all attempt to measure them, as being able to define a problem is the first step in being able to solve it.

Using a staff survey will assist in identifying the root causes of stress. And once these causes have been identified, they can start to be tackled.

By conducting the same survey each year, the company will then be able to see how well they have managed to tackle the identified causes of stress, as well as using the survey to detect any new emerging stress related issues.

But the HSE’s management standards are more far reaching than they at first appear.

Companies may be considering them simply in terms of compliance, but they should be regarded in terms of the huge benefits of having a stress-free workforce, both in terms of productivity, and sickness.

Organisations also need to think about how the standards cut across the psychological contract, and engagement issues.

The standards are part of the key to a successful, happy, productive and motivated workforce. Companies that embrace them now will realise the benefits of doing so, and will soon be reaping the rewards.

Don Iszatt
Research director, The Team Works

Strength in numbers makes CIPD worth it

Your news story (Personnel Today, 30 November) indicates that the Commercial Added Value HR Association is being established as a rival to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The CIPD does a great deal of important work in the HR field which is not always recognised even within the profession. It is also due to the CIPD that the HR function in the UK and Ireland has reached a higher level of professionalism and public acceptance than in any other European country.

Many of our own members are CIPD members and fellows and we always encourage individuals to join their established HR association wherever they are based. I see no reason why there needs to be a separate association for senior HR people any more than there is a case for recruiters or management development specialists to break away to form their own group.

There is strength and credibility in being part of a unified profession, and fragmentation can only be bad news for all of us who value our CIPD membership.

Robin Chater
Secretary general, The Federation of European Employers

HR is the glue that keeps it all together

Few elements of a business, if any, connect the people in an organisation. E-mail is too impersonal, while group-wide e-mails are only given a cursory glance at best by most employees. And yet the irony is that the role of HR is in dire need of rescuing from a slow decline. After years of being under-valued by the rest of the business, the HR function has been demoted to one of administration.

What’s needed now is technology that can effectively connect all people in all walks of their corporate life and also co-ordinate and automate the fundamentals of policy, process and people. This way HR can truly gel the organisation together and proactively deliver intelligence to the rest of the business in time to influence key decisions affecting resources and company strategy.

Connecting departments and people in this way will enable increased collaboration across the business, and foster the sharing of advice and information. Such an approach could even act as a catalyst for lucrative and transformational business change!

Frank Beechinor
Chief executive, Vizual Business Tools

High-flying flop was not a good example

Your article ‘HR 40 Years On’ (Personnel Today, 2 November) contained the entry for 1985 ‘People Express Airlines takes off’ and suggested that the company was a model for low-cost airlines. Up to a point, yes. But People Express eventually fell as fast as it grew and went bust – mainly because although it had a reputation for being cheap, it also had one for shoddy service. When other cheap competitors entered the market no-one had a reason to fly People Express any more.

A better model from an HR perspective is Southwest Airlines, which is cheap and efficient and prides itself on having a list of corporate priorities that reads people (ie, employees), customers, shareholders – in that order. It is the most efficient airline in the US and wins awards for service year in, year out.

Mark Godfrey
Training and development manager, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council

Taking 10,000 steps in the right direction

I read with interest your article about the Government’s guidelines to encourage employers to invest in the health of their staff (Personnel Today, 23 November).

Last month, United Biscuits launched a Europe-wide internal programme aimed at communicating the importance of fitness and well-being to our employees and to show how this can be achieved in work.
Our 12,000 employees were given pedometers and challenged to walk 10,000 steps a day.

Feedback so far shows that the 10,000-step challenge has had a successful start and we are delighted with the enthusiastic response from staff.

The walking activity is being supported by a poster campaign, which informs staff about food issues, including obesity and the importance of a balanced diet and lifestyle. As a food manufacturer, we felt it was particularly important to educate staff about these issues.

The Government’s White Paper on Public Health points out at that a “motivated, healthy workforce is more likely to perform well”. There are clear business benefits to be gained from programmes that encourage better health, such as reductions in ill-health retirements and staff absenteeism due to sickness.

Bill Winthrop
Management services director, United Biscuits

Distortion does not reflect the facts

In response to your letter ‘Advice is also on dangerous ground’ (Personnel Today, 16 November), to suggest that I imply that black employees have an exclusive right to bring race discrimination claims is a distortion of what I wrote – of course they do not. However, to dismiss a BNP member under the circumstances described would not be on the ground of his race, or any other protected category, but because of his political belief (which is not the subject of protection outside of Northern Ireland) and the effect his presence in the workplace had on other employees.

David Appleton
Partner, Lewis Silkin

Discussions online

Can you help with the latest questions posted on’s discussion forums?

At the time of going to press, discussion points included:

– Like many organisations, my staff have complained that they feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of information and communications that take place on a daily basis. I feel the time has come to try to conduct a full and detailed audit of all our communication process to see if there is anything we can do to reduce/stop and/or generally improve things overall. But where does one start?

– How should HR deal with an employee who has returned to work after a period of absence but is not coping even under reduced hours and is obviously not well enough to be in work despite being given medical clearance to return.

– Does anyone have any experience in recruiting people on zero-hours contract and how would you calculate holiday allowance?

To join in with the discussions go to

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