The Management Standards approach suggests using a survey as one (but not the only) useful source of information on whether work related stress appears to be a potential problem for your workforce and, if so, who is likely to be affected and how.
Individual perceptions play an important role in predicting stress related ill health. Gathering the opinions of employees can be a useful indicator of the health of your organisation, and potential sources of work related stress.
The HSE Management Standards Indicator Tool
The HSE Management Standards includes a survey tool, called the HSE Management Standards Indicator Tool that can be distributed to all employees.
The survey consists of 35 items that ask about 'working conditions' known to be potential causes of work related stress. These working conditions correspond to the six stressors of the Management Standards. The employee answers according to how they feel about these aspects of their work.
All responses can then be compiled into an Excel-based analysis tool, the HSE Management Standards Analysis Tool [XLS, 4MB].
The tool computes an average figure for each of the six Management Standards for all respondents or particular sub-groups. The tool uses standard Excel functions to cut the survey results using demographic category data that were collected from employees who completed the Indicator Tool questionnaire.
You can also use the Management Standards survey tools as part of a customised 'pick and mix' approach. The ways in which you can do this are described in the HSE Management Standards Indicator Tool manual .
If you plan to use your own surveys
You may like to use your own annual employee surveys or your own specific survey of working conditions to investigate whether work related stress is likely to be a problem for your workforce and, if so, who is likely to be harmed and how.
If you do plan to do this, you need to:
- Assess whether your survey covers all the relevant areas that are potential causes of stress for your workforce, eg which questions cover each of the six Management Standard areas?
- Identify if there are gaps – Do you need to add additional questions? Or could you gather information about these areas in different ways, eg by discussing them with your employees?
Whether you use your own survey approach or the HSE Management Standards survey approach, the next step, communicating the results, is equally important.
How to communicate your findings
Once you have conducted and analysed your survey it is important to accurately communicate the findings to the board, the workforce and their representatives.
A survey is only the start of the risk assessment process and a broad indicator of the situation in an organisation. It is intended to provide a starting point rather than giving a clear diagnosis of all the likely sources of work related stress.
If there are areas that require action, these can form the basis of discussions with focus groups and a useful guide for future actions.
You should not use surveys in isolation but with other sources of information to give you a more informed picture.
Be sure to keep managers, staff representatives, trade unions and employees fully consulted and informed throughout the survey process so that the figures do not come as a shock.