Stress at Work: Healthy Business

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In 2006, 175 million working days were lost to illness. The annual economic cost of sickness absence and unemployment due to ill-health are estimated to be over £100 billion (greater than the current annual budget for the NHS and equivalent to Portugal’s GDP).

The health of the working age population has been reviewed and Dame Carol Black’s report ‘Working for a healthier tomorrow’ was published on 17 March 2008.

While early, regular and sensitive contact with employees during sickness absences can facilitate an early return, the review revealed that 40% of organisations have no sickness-absence management policy.

The research found that health and well-being programmes produced economic benefits (beyond avoiding or reducing the costs of absence or poor performance) across all sectors and all sizes of business.

The report notes that by complying with health and safety and employment law, providing good health and safety management and reducing exposure to risk, employers minimise the likelihood of workers being made ill by their jobs.

It suggests that both employers and workers must change their perception of health and well-being and to invest resources and change their behaviour to produce modern workplaces that ensure good health and productivity.

The report suggests that, irrespective of sector or size, employers need to create empowering and rewarding working environments for all their employees.
In particular:

When designing jobs and developing management arrangements, employers need to think about how staff will feel valued and what will motivate them to deliver a quality product or service without undue stress that might lead to poor health. The concept of “good work” is fundamental to good health and productivity.

The role of the line manager is key. Good line management contributes to good health and improved performance. Line managers also have a role in identifying and supporting people with health conditions to remain at work, adjusting responsibilities where necessary.

Consider the following:

Do you have any employees that regularly work more than 48 hours per week?

Do you currently have any employees that are absent due to sickness caused by work related stress?

Do you have the following policies and are they up to date:  Health and Safety, Capability, Bullying and Harassment, Stress, Grievance?

Do all employees have inductions and job descriptions so that they are aware of their roles and responsibilities?

Are employees consulted about changes within the organisation?