New Guidance to Cut Workplace Stress

A new guide to managing workplace stress offers managers a checklist to determine whether their behaviour is increasing or relieving employee tension.

Line management behaviour and stress, published jointly by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), lists a range of management approaches that are likely to influence stress levels among employees.

By saying whether the approach is positive or negative, the guide aims to help managers work out what effect their behaviour scenarios might be having on their employees. For example, acting as a mediator in conflicts is considered positive; simply keeping the peace is labelled negative â?? because it can lead to stress.

Stress is the leading cause of long-term absence for non-manual workers and costs UK businesses £26 billion per year. Although employers have a duty to asses whether their workplace or work activities create stress or ill-health among employees, their legal responsibility ends there.

“Employers that invest in training and developing their managers to ensure they exhibit the behaviours that manage stress at work will reap benefits in terms of reduced conflict and staff turnover, as well as increased motivation and commitment,” said CIPD employee relations adviser Ben Wilmott.

Stress Management Society director Neil Shah agreed, saying, “If you want to have a happy, efficient workforce then obviously the more relaxed they are and the less stress they have, the more productive they’ll be. It’s not just that it’s something nice to do, but it will actually have an impact on bottom line profits.”

However, the Federation of Small Businesses said it was important to make a distinction between stress that helps people perform and stress that prevents them from performing.

“Stress is the new illness in the workplace, but there is good stress and bad stress – some people thrive on being busy,” said FSB spokesperson Stephen Alambritis.

“If the stress is a result of the work operations, all employers should be attuned to that, but if the employee has problems at home that are causing them stress they need to be honest with their employer and tell them. The vast majority of small employers are very understanding about that and are likely to already have flexible working and such systems in place to deal with it.”

The guidelines for line management behaviour and stress can be downloaded from the CIPD website

© BHP Information Solutions 2008

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