Resources and useful links
HSE published guidance
The following documents are free:
- Tackling work-related stress using the Management Standards approach: A step-by-step workbook
- How to tackle work-related stress: A guide for employers on making the Management Standards work
- Working together to reduce stress at work: A guide for employees
EC Social Partners voluntary agreement guidance
The Confederation of British Industries (CBI), Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic Interest (CEEP) UK and Forum of Private Business (FPB), working together in partnership with HSE and the DTI have jointly drawn up this guidance. It was drafted to:
- provide a framework to help identify and prevent work-related stress and deal with it effectively
- create awareness among employers, employees and their representatives about work-related stress
Work-related stress: What the law says
This guidance, developed for HSE with the help of Acas, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and Health, Work and Well-being, summarises the legal duties that employers have to reduce and, where possible, prevent work-related stress impacting on the health of their employees. It provides a starting point to help understand the legal requirements, and suggests actions that employers can take to help not just comply with the law, but improve the working conditions for all employees.
Line managers’ resource: A practical guide to managing and supporting people with mental health problems in the workplace
This resource was developed by Shift, the Department of Health’s programme to reduce stigma and discrimination directed towards people with mental health problems. It was part of Shift’s ‘Action on Stigma’ initiative aimed at supporting employers to promote good mental health and reduce discrimination.
HSE’s work-related stress statistics page provides statistical information and detail on stress incidence, prevalence and working days lost, taken from the annual Labour Force Survey. Further information is also gathered via the THOR-GP data. A poster of the latest statistical data is available.
HSE Management Standards and stress-related work outcomes
This research paper was produced, to assess the impact of the Management Standards on work-related stress outcomes published by the Society of Occupational Medicine. It investigated the relationship between the Management Standards and 'job satisfaction', job-related anxiety and depression and errors/near misses.
A summary of the evidence
These papers describe the evidence behind our approach to tackling stress, the development and validation of the Management Standards and review the associated Stress Indicator Tool and its effectiveness.
- Work related stress in the UK: A new Management Standards approach. Part 1 - Background
- Work related stress in the UK: A new Management Standards approach. Part 2 - Practical developments
- Psychometric analysis of the UK Health and Safety Executive's Management Standards work related stress Indicator Tool
A summary of the evidence of the need to evaluate line management competency
Research shows a major cause of work-related stress is how managers manage staff and stress. These reports describe the evidence behind tools that help managers evaluate their skills and identify whether their behaviours promote stress or help to minimise and resolve stress:
- RR553 Management competencies for preventing and reducing stress at work - phase one
- RR633 Management competencies for preventing and reducing stress at work - phase two
- Preventing Stress: promoting positive manager behaviour
Workplace interventions for people with common mental health problems
This review provides evidence-based answers on questions about mental ill health in the workplace to help managers, occupational health professionals and others make management decisions and offer advice.
- Workplace interventions for people with common mental health problems: Evidence review and recommendations
HSE contract research reports on work-related stress
Those who want more detail may be interested in the following set of research reports. To access all HSE's research reports search our research site.
- Psychosocial risk factors in call centres: An evaluation of work design and well-being
This research outlines the key stressors present in call-centre environments, and proposes measures to eliminate or reduce the impact of these stressors.
- Beacons of Excellence in stress prevention
This report describes work to identify good practice in stress prevention and then identify organisations that could be called beacons of excellence in comparison to this model.
- Best practice in rehabilitating employees following absence due to work related stress
This report provides examples of how to encourage employees to return to work and to prevent a reoccurrence of their initial stress.
- The Whitehall II Study: Work, environment, alcohol consumption and ill health
This report demonstrates the links between psychosocial risk factors and subsequent ill health based on the longitudinal Whitehall II study of 10 000 British civil servants.
- The scale of occupational stress - The Bristol Health at Work study [PDF, 6.3MB]
- The scale of occupational stress - A further analysis
These reports provided indications of the scale of the problem of work-related stress in the UK and informed the development of the Management Standards.
To access all HSE's research reports search our research site.
HSE has developed tools, guidance and templates to support you in developing an approach to managing work-related stress. These often relate to HSE’s Management Standards approach but can be used as part of an equivalent alternative; they are free to use.
The case for action
- Securing management commitment - details the legal requirements for taking action
Survey and analysis tools
- HSE Indicator Tool
- HSE Indicator Tool user manual
- HSE Analysis Tool
- HSE Indicator Tool - Welsh version
- HSE Indicator Tool user manual - Welsh version
- HSE Indicator Tool in other languages
Developing a stress policy
Developing an action plan
Running focus groups
- Line Manager Competency Indicator Tool
- Line Managers’ Resource: A practical guide to managing and supporting people with mental health problems in the workplace
Return to work after absence
Trade union and employee health and safety representatives
Simple exercises are now available to help health and safety representatives, both unionised and non-unionised, understand their role in tackling stress at work using the Management Standards approach.
Five exercises take you through the signs and symptoms of stress and ask what you can do as an employee representative to help reduce and prevent stress. You can also read some ‘typical’ answers to get helpful tips. You can save your answers in PDF form and print them.
HSE and the TUC have written Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, a leaflet for health and safety representatives.
Work-related stress is a major cause of occupational ill health that can cause severe physical and psychological issues for employees. A set of posters has been developefd to increase awareness in your workforce and help to prevent stress in the workplace. Each set of posters is unique in design and style of messaging, offering employers a choice for their staff.
Help with non-work stressors
These organisations can help with advice and guidance on other stressors.
- Alcohol: Drinkline. Help for anyone worried about their own or someone else's drinking. 0300 123 1110
- Bereavement: Cruse Bereavement Care. Help for bereaved people and people caring for bereaved people. 0844 477 9400
- Carers: Carers UK. Advice and information for all carers. 0808 808 7777
- Disability: DIAL. UK network of disability information and advice services run by people with experience of disability 01302 310 123
- Domestic violence:Women's Aid and REFUGE offer a joint helpline for practical advice and support for people experiencing domestic violence. 0808 200 0247
- Drugs: National Drugs Helpline. For drug users, their families, friends and carers. 0800 77 66 00
- FRANK: helps you find out everything you want to know about drugs. For friendly advice in confidence.
- Equality: EASS: Equality Advisory Support SurveyThe Helpline (0808 800 0082) advises and assists individuals on issues relating to equality and human rights, across England, Scotland and Wales.
- Emotional crisis: Samaritans. Confidential, emotional support for anyone in a crisis. 116 123
- Family: Family Lives. Helpline for the parents and carers of children. 0808 800 2222
- Money: National debtline. Help for anyone in debt or worried they may fall into debt. 0808 808 4000
- Older people: Age UK. For older people, their families and people working with them. 0800 169 6565
- Social welfare: Shelter. Helpline for anyone facing a housing emergency. 0808 800 4444
- Citizens Advice.] Free, confidential advice on many topics.
- Young people: Childline. Help for children and young people in danger, distress or with any problem. 0800 1111
- NSPCC: For anyone worried about a child at risk of abuse. 0808 800 5000
Help with mental health problems
These organisations can help with information about common mental health problems.
- Anxiety UK: Anxiety UK works to relieve and support those living with anxiety disorders. 08444 775 774
- *Business Disability Forum: Business Disability Forum is an employers' organisation focused on disability as it affects business. They aim to enable companies to become disability confident by making it easier to recruit and retain disabled employees and to serve disabled customers.
*for employers only
Counselling Directory - set up by a team who know how difficult it can be to find support. Through their experiences of mental health issues, they learnt how having the right support and information can help transform lives. The website encourages those in need to seek help and contains information on the common reasons people turn to counselling, as well as articles, news, and events. To ensure the professionalism of its website, all counsellors have provide details of their qualifications and insurance cover or proof of membership with a professional body.
- Dealing with Depression: Dealing with Depression is an online forum that provides a friendly and safe place for people to share information and talk about their experiences of depression.
- Mental Health Helplines Partnership Project: The Telephone Helplines Association's website lists a number of different mental health telephone services.
- Mind Infoline: The Mind Infoline service is run by a dedicated team of specialists, responding to more than 20 000 enquiries a year. Topics range from types of mental distress, where to get help and drug treatments, to alternative therapies and who's who in mental health services and advocacy. 0300 123 3393 (Open Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm except for bank holidays) or text 86463
- NHS: The NHS in England and Wales offers people medical information and advice by phone or over the internet. They can also refer callers to various self-help and support organisations. 111. In Scotland, contact NHS 24 on 111
- Rethink Mental Illness’ National Advice and Information Service: Rethink Mental Illness’ National Advice and Information Service provides expert advice and information on issues that affect the lives of people coping with mental illness. 0300 5000 927 (Open Monday to Friday 9:30am to 4pm)
- SANEline: Support, information and advice for anyone affected by mental health problems (Open 6pm to 11pm every day) 0845 767 8000
- SANEmail: SANEmail runs alongside SANEline to provide an additional channel of support to those affected by mental health issues
- The Mental Health Foundation: The Mental Health Foundation provides information, carries out research, campaigns and works to improve services for anyone affected by mental health problems, whatever their age and wherever they live
24hr connectivity/tablets and mobile phones
As work patterns and technology changes many of us are now working away from workplaces and have become more reliant of mobile phones, tablets and laptops which allow us to maintain contact with ‘the office’. Used properly these can be useful and helpful – if you’re out visiting a customer they can give us directions, warn us of travel difficulties, and get emails and messages.
However, they can become a stressor when used to contact people out of normal working hours. Pressure is cumulative and as long as people are given sufficient opportunity to recover, does not always result in stress – contacting people outside their normal working time is reducing this recovery time and may have an adverse effect.
If you have workers using such equipment it would be useful to have a policy that explains the approved use of the equipment outside work hours and getting line managers to sign up to it – this should include a cut-off point after which it is accepted that emails will not receive a response or be considered. The policy may include provision that users should switch off their units whilst on leave.
Bullying and harassment
Bullying and harassment are behaviours that make someone feel intimidated, degraded, humiliated or offended and can contribute to work-related stress.
They are often covered by legislation, for example Equalities Act where it is targeted, the Protection from Harassment Act or even criminal law where violence is involved. You can find out more about tackling harassment and bullying at work from:
- ACAS Bullying and harassment at work: a guide for managers and employers
- CIPD Harassment and bullying at work
- unions, including the TUC
Presenteeism means people attending work even though they are unwell due to physical or mental health conditions. Presenteeism can be a major concern if people won’t take time to recover because, for example, they:
- don’t get paid when they are off sick
- are worried about losing their job
- don’t want to adversely affect their promotion chances
- don’t want to add to other people’s pressure because they are covering for them
When people are ill they are less productive, can’t fully concentrate, are more prone to making errors or having accidents and may be infectious, causing others to become ill.
Find out more about presenteeism.
PTSD is a psychological and physical condition affecting people who have experienced or witnessed profoundly traumatic events. It can affect people in work which exposes them to war (such as soldiers) or disaster (such as emergency service workers).
A risk-based approach can help identify where incidents might happen. Preparing employees with training and other steps, such as psychometric testing, may help avoid or minimise the impact.
You can find out more about PTSD from:
- the Royal College of Psychiatrists
- MIND, the charity for mental health
- NHS Choices
- PTSD Support, a charity that helps those with, or living with people who have, PTSD. 24-hour helpline 01788 560800
Find out how managers can support employees with mental health issues.
Resilience and Mindfulness training
Resilience and mindfulness training are developed to make people think about the pressures they are experiencing in a different way. This mitigates to some degree the negative impact these pressures have – they are sometimes called coping mechanisms.
However these are targeted initiatives that benefit those who have been trained, they do not tackle or remove the cause of the stress and consequently stop the build-up of the negative impact. This may simply delay the problem rather than remove it.
Whilst these kind of initiatives can help people who are or may be experiencing stress, they are not the whole solution. Interventions of this type alone are unlikely to be sufficient to tackle work related stress and may mean an employer is not fully meeting their legal duty.
HSE promotes the use of preventative measures that tackle the stressors at an organisational level. The actions taken then prevent work-related stress developing in the whole workforce, or in groups of staff. Research has shown that approaches that include a combination of organisational and other approaches is more effective for tackling stress.
Return to work
If staff take time off work because of work-related stress, getting them back to work as quickly as possible is important, particularly for them. A well-managed early return to work will reduce the risk of the absence becoming long term (that is longer than a month). In general, people find it more difficult to return to work the longer they are absent. Fit for Work provides free, confidential and impartial work-related health advice to employers and employees. It offers expert help from occupational health professionals to help people return to work after sickness absence.
HSE has also produced a return-to-work questionnaire you may find useful.
Well-being is a measure of satisfaction and happiness. It is a generic term for many initiatives to promote good health ranging from massage or yoga to five-a-day and smoking cessation schemes. These are aimed at the individual workers and only help the individuals taking part, improving their health.
BITC has developed material about managing emotional well-being to help managers build team resilience, which may be helpful.
While this kind of initiative can make people feel better, they are not designed specifically tackle work-related stress or its causes and using just these interventions, an employer is not fully meeting their legal duty.
HSE promotes the use of preventative measures that tackle the stressors at an organisational level. The actions taken then prevent work-related stress developing in the whole workforce, or in groups of staff. Research has shown that approaches that includes a combination of organisational and other approaches, such as resilience or mindfulness training, is more effective for tackling stress.
Shift work, lone working and other non-standard working hours can negatively impact on employees’ welfare.
For example, lone workers do not have the ‘social’ side of work. They may face additional risks of violence or abuse. It is not easy for their manager to monitor their welfare, which may lead to health problems. Short-term or zero-hour contracts can also present problems for employees, particularly worries about money and job security.
People working from home may have some specific needs to be considered, for example one of the six Management Standards relates to support from both peers and managers, clearly being a way from colleagues could mean good support is more difficult to achieve.