RR431 - A business case for the Management Standards for stress

The aim of this report is to review the extant literature, in order to determine the extent to which effectively managing some or all of the six key sources of occupational stress, specified in the Management Standards, is associated with beneficial business outcomes. These six stressors, or working conditions, are demands, control, support, relationships, role, and change. The results of meta-analyses and literature reviews lead to the conclusion that there is at least some high quality evidence of a business case for each stressor area, although the case is stronger for some working conditions. Evidence is greatest for control, where even intervention studies show that targeted lowimpact change programmes, which essentially applied the Management Standard of control, have significant, and very meaningful, effects on business outcomes. The business case appears weakest for demands. In particular, high demands only have meaningful and consistent deleterious effects on business outcomes in laboratory experiments. In actual work organisations, high demands are not a good predictor of any business outcome, except when they are accompanied by lower levels of control.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2021-04-20