Pressure is part of work and keeps us motivated and productive. But too much pressure, or pressure that lasts for a long time, can lead to stress, which undermines performance, is costly to employers, and can damage both physical and mental health.
Common causes of work-related stress include too much or too little work, lack of control over the work being done, eg process or target-led tasks, conflicting priorities and major change. There are actions you can take to reduce the pressure these things can cause.
What do I have to do?
Where stress may be a problem, you should include it in your risk assessment and take action to tackle it.
An effective risk assessment approach to tackling stress could include the following:
- Measure the current situation (using surveys and/or other techniques)
- Work in partnership with employees and their representatives to make practical improvements
- Agree and share an action plan with employees and their representatives
- Regularly review the situation to ensure it continues to improve
HSE has also developed the Management Standards for dealing with work-related stress.They are supported by tools designed to identify and tackle stressors, ie the things that cause stress at work.
The Management Standards provide a step-by-step process for tackling stress. They have been designed to be useful to all organisations, whatever the size or type.
The Standards identify six factors that cause stress at work, help you think about whether they are present in your business, give you ideas on how to control them and produce an action plan. The six factors are:
- Demands – including issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment
- Control – how much say the person has in the way they do their work
- Support – including the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues
- Relationships – including promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour
- Role – whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles
- Change – how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated
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