In today’s efficient and competitive work environment, it’s no surprise that workplace stress is on the rise. Work-related stress can contribute to be one of the major causes of illnesses in employees and long-term absence. Employers often demand that their employees work longer hours, meet tight deadlines, and juggle multiple responsibilities. However, when stress levels become too high, it can take a toll on employees’ health and well-being. Not only can stress lead to physical and mental health problems, but it can also lead to increased absenteeism and decreased productivity. This is where a workplace stress risk assessment comes in. By identifying and addressing workplace stressors, a stress risk assessment can help reduce absenteeism and improve employee well-being. In this blog, we will guide you on how conducting a stress risk assessment in your workplace can help you significantly lower the absenteeism rate among your employees.
What is stress risk assessment?
A risk assessment is a process of analyzing and evaluating the level of risk that a significant hazard poses in the workplace and to employees. By identifying the level of risk gained from conducting a risk assessment, employers can then develop control measures to eliminate or mitigate these risks.
Similarly, a stress risk assessment follows the same general methods and principles as any other risk assessment. However, unlike a normal risk assessment that emphasizes physical attributes, a stress risk assessment can be tougher to perform in the workplace. This is mostly due to the fact that the symptoms and causes of stress in the workplace are not always apparent or easy to identify. Therefore, anyone conducting a stress risk assessment should be familiar with it and should be aware of the challenges involved while conducting it.
Why stress risk assessment is important?
According to Health and Safety Executive, approximately 914,000 workers in the UK suffered from work-related stress in 2021-22. These results showed that approximately 17 million working days were lost due to the huge number of workers suffering from stress. This research shows that stress from work can be a huge factor contributing to absenteeism and lowering the output of businesses across the UK.
It is clear that by reducing the stigma around stress at work and by helping your employees, you can help create a more joyful and productive workplace for your organization. Reducing stress is a lot of benefits, such as increased morale among employees, reduced rate of absenteeism and decreased employee turnover.
Conducting a workplace stress risk assessment
There are five main steps involved in conducting a successful risk assessment in the workplace. These include:
- Identifying risks in the workplace that contribute to stress
- Identifying who may be harmed by that and how
- Evaluating and implementing control measures to eliminate or control the risks
- Recording all the processes and findings and the measures taken
- Updating the risk assessment time by time
Factors to consider during a workplace stress risk assessment
According to the HSE, six factors contribute to employees feeling stressed at work. These elements are known as the Management Standards. When completing a stress risk assessment, you should evaluate how the following elements affect employee stress levels:
Demands – Unrealistic expectations might make employees feel pressed and unable to keep up with their tasks. Employees may also become stressed as a result of not having enough work to do.
Control – Employees may report feeling powerless over decision-making and how their job obligations are carried out.
Support – Employees do not receive enough help at work. This can include a lack of information about the company’s future, a lack of staff encouragement, insufficient training, and a lack of resources made available.
Relationships – Employees may struggle to manage connections at work. Bullying, ostracization, and discrimination can all affect work relationships.
Role – Employees may not believe they fully comprehend the nature of their roles and obligations.
Change – Employees may experience increased stress if they are not involved in major changes to work procedures or the company’s organizational structure.
Recognizing stress among employees
The signs of stress among your employees can include:
- Increased absenteeism
- Increased rates of lateness
- Higher rates of employee turnover
- Decreased productivity and performance
- An increase in work-related complaints
- Increased arguments among staff
- Staff appeared to be nervous, unmotivated, or withdrawn
- Staff being overly emotional in their reactions
Using a workplace stress risk assessment questionnaire
When doing their assessment, some people may find it useful to use a workplace stress risk assessment questionnaire. This may involve inquiries such as:
- Are the employees satisfied with their workload?
- Is the number of breaks offered to employees sufficient?
- Are the employees trained?
- Do the staff have control over how they manage their workload?
- Do employees need more support in their roles?
- Are the relations between your employees good?
- Are the employees aware of what is expected from them?
After considering the following questions, you would be clear about which employees in your workplace are suffering from stress related to their work. Now it is time to take appropriate control measures to reduce the stress amongst your employees. Stress can be a contagious mental illness, and therefore, after identifying it in your workplace, you should take quick action to tackle it. One solution could be to provide your employees with resilience training that would help them cope with their daily and work-life stress. Appropriate training can be the key solution to most of the mental-related problems in the workplace. So therefore, always try to consider appropriate training for your employees. Similarly, resilience training can be an effective training that would educate them to tackle their stress and improve their mental health.
Who can carry out a risk assessment?
The employer is responsible for conducting a risk assessment. According to a report from Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) 1999, an employer is responsible “for the effective planning, organization, control, monitoring, and reviewing of preventive and protective measures.”
While an employer may assign the task of conducting a risk assessment to a qualified employee or a third party, the employer retains legal obligation.
In conclusion, conducting a workplace stress risk assessment is a proactive step employers can take to reduce absenteeism and improve employee well-being. By identifying and understanding the root causes of workplace stress, employers can create a healthier work environment that promotes employee productivity, engagement, and satisfaction. By taking steps to reduce workplace stress, employers benefit their employees and themselves by reducing costs associated with absenteeism and improving overall business performance. Therefore, employers must prioritize employee well-being and consider conducting a workplace stress risk assessment as part of their overall strategy for success.