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Step 3: Evaluate the risks – Explore problems and develop solutions

Management Standards
  1. Identify the risk factors

    Step 1 - Identify the stress risk factors: understand the Management Standards.
  2. Who can be harmed and how

    Step 2 - Decide who might be harmed and how: gather data.
  3. Evaluate the risks

    Step 3 - Evaluate the risks: explore problems and develop solutions.
  4. Record your findings

    Step 4 - Record your findings: develop and implement action plans.
  5. Monitor and review

    Step 5 - Monitor and review: monitor and review action plans and assess effectiveness.

The primary aim of this step is to take the output from the previous step, data collection and analysis, and discuss the conclusions with a representative sample of employees and work with them to develop solutions.

Data analysis can only provide a broad indication of the underlying issues affecting the health of employees. If you want to know what is affecting employees you have to ask them!

"Peer support showed as a problem on the staff survey but not in focus groups!"
NHS Trust

Read more about evaluating the risks

How you choose to evaluate the risks will be dictated by your organisational structure and the way you have chosen to follow the Management Standards approach.

Why focus groups are helpful

Focus groups can be helpful because:

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Focus groups, or similar discussion groups, also allow you to explore possible solutions to problems.

It is critical that your employees and their representatives participate in this process as:

Groups of between six and ten people work best, but the numbers of your employees involved in this stage will depend on the size of your organisation and local circumstances.

During the focus group or discussion group, you may find it useful to consider the 'States to be achieved' of the Management Standards, and whether this good practice is actually happening in your organisation. You may find that this can help provide structure to some of your discussions.

For further information on setting up and running focus groups see 'How to organise and run focus groups' [PDF, 170KB]

If you use your own approaches to consultation with staff and their representatives and not focus groups, it is important that all stakeholders (management, employees and their representatives) are represented in any consultation process and have a route into any forum used.

Find more information on how to develop solutions

Develop focus group action plans

Since there are likely to be a number of different preliminary action plans produced by different focus groups, it is likely that these will have to be reviewed and turned into an action plan for the organisation. For more information on this see Step 4 – Developing an action plan.

Communicate the results

You should keep management, employees and their representatives updated as you go through this process. For example, it is a good idea to share with focus group participants the outcome of the focus groups soon afterward.

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Deal with individual concerns

Each of the six Management Standards requires that you have systems in place to deal with individual concerns.


If you are following the Management Standards approach, before you begin the next stage, you should:

  • consult employees to discuss problem areas in more detail;
  • work in partnership with employees and their representatives to develop actions to take;
  • ensure that issues affecting individuals are addressed;
  • feed back results to managers, employees and employee representatives, with a commitment to follow-up; and
  • record what you have done.

"Feeling is that despite difficulties the focus group approach has worked well and feedback from staff has been very good."
Government Department

"What would you do differently? Realise that improvements are driven by 'bottom-up' methods of change."
Sandwell Local Authority

Read more about exploring problems and developing solutions

You are now ready to move on to Step 4, Record your findings.

Updated 2012-12-04