Existing sources of information or data within your organisation
Your organisation may already collect information that you can use to give an initial broad indication of whether work related stress is likely to be a problem. You could use this information to identify 'hot-spots' where work related stress is likely to be a particular problem and suggest what the likely underlying causes may be. Possible sources include:
- sickness absence data
- productivity data
- Staff turnover
- opportunities for discussion
Sickness absence data
High levels of sickness absence may indicate a potential problem. Investigate the reason for the absences. Remember, stress related sickness absence is sometimes not reported in these terms, because people are often ashamed to admit to it.
Lower than expected performance (when compared with previous years or between different parts of the organisation) may indicate a problem. Working methods or conditions could be causing work related stress and may be affecting performance.
A higher rate of staff turnover than you would expect in your organisation, or parts of your organisation, may indicate a problem with work related stress. Do your 'exit interviews' suggest common reasons why people have decided to leave, and if work related stress was a factor?
Opportunities for discussion
- Performance appraisals - These could offer an opportunity to have a one-to-one discussion about work and to explore whether people in your team are experiencing excessive pressure.
- Team meetings - These can provide very useful opportunities for team members to identify and share views on current issues that may be potential sources of undue pressure.
- Informal talks to staff - You can try to find out the mood of individuals or the team. If people seem continually unhappy, are not themselves, or are not performing well, ask if there is a problem.
- 'Walk-throughs' - This is where a manager or supervisor walks through a section and observes work processes to assess whether there are any obvious aspects of the job (such as the way work is done, the pace of work, or working conditions) which may cause excessive pressure. This is most effective if done in combination with a talk-through.
- 'Talk-throughs' - These involve someone describing what happens when a task is being carried out. It can be used to get employees to think about tasks in terms of the potential they have to lead to work related stress.