Why a Stress Risk Assessment is Necessary

Work related stress can be a serious issue in the workplace and it can have a significant negative effect on health and wellbeing. Working in a stressful environment can actually make you unwell and can increase your chances of developing high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Also, the stress can make you more likely to be obese, smoke tobacco and drink too much alcohol.

Did you know that the Health and Safety at Work legislation in the UK requires all employers to carry out officially written Risk Assessments on all workplace hazards –including stress in the workplace?

A stress risk assessment is all about making a systematic examination of the workplace and identifying what might potentially cause harm to morale of the employees. This will help you to clarify whether or not you are doing enough to protect your employees or whether you must take further steps.

What is the Risk Assessment Process?

  • There are five steps to the basic risk assessment process, which include:
  • Identifying the workplace hazards and risks. In this case, this means figuring out which factors in the workplace might cause stress to employees.
  • Identifying who is at risk. Are there employees who are more at risk for stress than others due to certain factors?
  • Note the controls that are being used and figure out whether or not those controls are adequate. If not, integrate new control measures into the workplace that will be sufficient.
  • Record the findings of the risk assessment in writing.
  • Periodically review the risk assessment and update it if necessary.

These steps are the responsibility of the employer, so that they can ensure the health and wellbeing of their employees. Also, employees have a responsibility to report any short-comings in their workplace safety to their employer.

Reasons to Carry out a Stress Risk Assessment

There are many reasons why you should carry out a stress risk assessment. Here are a few of the major ones:

  • Conducting risk assessments is an obligation under the Health and Safety law – as these laws see stress in the same way as any other health hazard.
  • It is the duty of the employer to identify any possible risks to the health of employees, so a safety risk assessment helps to identify these risks.
  • Conducing a stress risk assessment will help to identify stress problems, which can be addressed well before they become an issue for the employer. The actions that are taken in the workplace will minimise long term stress and the consequences, such as negative behaviours, absenteeism, lower productivity and poor performance.
  • When employees see that there is a commitment to their well-being, this will manifest in higher morale in the workplace.
  • Assessing and reducing stress risks will also help to reduce the likelihood of damage to your reputation – as well as the high costs that are associated with stresses cases.

There are also ethical reasons to conducting a stress risk assessment. A good employer knows that work should provide a sense of achievement, satisfaction and enjoyment. By identifying stress problems, it can help employers to focus where they are needed more so that they can promote the well-being of their employees at work.

Factors Related to Workplace Stress

Do you know what the factors are related to workplace stress? Here are some of the common reasons why workers are feeling stressed out. Talk to your employees and really listen to what they have to say. If they are feeling that any of these factors apply to them, they should let you know so that the workplace can change to reduce these stresses.

Too Many Demands

If workers feel like they have too many demands to keep up with, they are very likely to feel work-related stress. It is important that job demands are evaluated so that they are realistic and can be achieved – without becoming unmanageable. Employees should also feel like they can speak up when their to-do list is being overloaded and they aren’t able to keep up.

Lack of Control

Employees also feel like they are more stressed out when they have very little control in how their work is carried out. This can undermine their job satisfaction and self-esteem and can have a negative effect on mental health.

Stressful Relationships

Relationships and interactions with supervisors and other employees can have a major effect on how people feel at work. Other people in the workplace can be a positive source of support but they can also be a major source of stress. It is important to watch out for work-related harassment and bullying.

Major Changes

Going through change can be stressful, so if your organisation has gone through a lot of changes recently such as redundancies it is important to be aware of how this affects the mental health of your employees. Poor management of change can cause your employees to feel nervous and anxious about their role in the workplace – this is why it is very important for any change in the workplace to be properly managed.

Poorly Defined Roles

Are the roles within your workplace clearly defined, or is there confusion about who is responsible for what? When a role is not understood or clearly defined, this can cause areas of conflict and can be a contributor to workplace stress.

Culture

Does your workplace have a positive culture, or is there an attitude of conflict, blame, bullying, avoidance of responsibility and lack of support? The workplace culture can have a huge effect on the mental health of your employees, so it is very important to make sure that it is a positive, supportive and respectful environment.

Many studies have shown that job stress is one of the major sources of stress in adults and it can have a seriously negative effect on health. It is important that you carry out a stress risk assessment in your workplace so that you can determine what is causing your employees to be stressed and what you can do to help them.