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Stress case study – Singer instruments

The situation

This science company has 36 employees and a diverse workforce. The quality manager was asked to take over health and safety management for the organisation at a time were two workers on sick leave with work-related stress.

Developing solutions

The company made urgent changes to help them - making sure there was regular contact and talking to them about a staged return to work. There were adjustments to their roles to make sure they did not go back to the same situation they were in when they went off sick. Both successfully returned to work.

The next step was to use the Management Standards Indicator Tool to find out what workers across the company were concerned about. Lack of management support was raised as the biggest concern. It seems the largest cause of stress was not workload or pressure, but feeling isolated because they felt unable to share worries or concerns.

Now, if someone has a problem they cannot discuss with their manager, they ask the health and safety manager for help. Key to reducing employee distress is having someone in place who can listen to them without judging them and can help them to resolve their problem or point them in the direction of appropriate help.

Results

There is now a very content workforce in the company. The Health and Safety Manager role covered all departments in the company and this independence allowed him to talk to everyone most days.

The fact that he did not have targets specific to the day-to-day running of the business signalled to employees his availability at any time if they had a problem they wanted to talk about. The quality manager is a registered counsellor and psychotherapist.

Update one year later

The company continues with its project which is delivering good results. 

As the next step, the safety manager and senior managers have been working to promote the idea that ’It’s OK not to be OK’. The messaging behind this is a recognition that many people will go through some kind of mental health problem during their lives and that it can affect anyone at any level within the organisation. It focuses on stress (work related or personal) as the most common cause of further problems. This has led to discussions on stress and mental health becoming part of everyday conversation throughout the company, removing the stigma and making it more likely people will seek help. 

The project makes information from MIND, a recognised expert in mental health, available to everybody.  These free, easy-to-understand, bite-sized leaflets help start the conversation on stress, whether it is rooted inside or outside work.  Staff now feel more able to ask for help and guidance at an early stage and problems are resolved more quickly rather than festering and becoming worse. 

Updated 2018-11-16