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November 4, 2009

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HSE backs campaign to tackle work-related stress

The Health and Safety Statistics were released in October and show that approximately 400,000 people reported that they were suffering from stress. These figures have cost businesses an estimated £4 billion.In an attempt to tackle the problem the HSE is supporting National Stress Awareness Day, which takes place today 4 November. The initiative is part of a campaign launched by the International Stress Management Association (ISMA), which is urging employers to take positive steps against work-related stress by using its Management Standards.The HSE is also encouraging managers and supervisors to take part in a self-assessment questionnaire, which tests their management skills. The results of this research will be used to develop a package of tools designed to help managers show the behaviours that are important in preventing stress at work among their staff.HSE chief executive Geoffrey Podger said: “We must make a conscious effort to deal with work-related stress as we lost over 11 million working days to stress last year. Pressure is part and parcel of all work and helps keep us motivated, but excessive pressure can lead to stress, which undermines performance, is costly to employers, and can make people ill.“There is no doubt that managers have a key role to play in helping reduce work-related stress by using the Management Standards.”Employee risk-management company, Aon Consultancy, is also supporting National Stress Awareness Day. The firm is urging more businesses to invest in training for their HR teams and line managers to help them identify signs of stress in employees.Aon consultant, Charlotte Bray, said: “We’re beginning to see companies take a more proactive, self-help approach to managing stress by using employee assistance programmes for lifestyle advice and counselling. More training and workshops for managers means they can learn to identify stress at the early stages, which can prevent conditions becoming chronic and are less likely to require drastic measures, such as long-term psychological or psychiatric help.“In turn this helps reduce claims for private medical insurance and group income protection plans, while, most importantly, helping the employee return to work. This needs to form part of a company’s overall wellness strategy, taking into account the objectives of the organisation and their ability to measure ROI.”
 

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