Continuing with the theme of workplace stress in honour of April being stress awareness month, we will be looking at how to conduct a stress risk assessment. The risk assessment is an essential tool for identifying the hazards your workforce face. Moreover, it plays a role in helping prevent the hazards from developing.
According to the HSE, workplace stress is ‘a harmful reaction people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work’. It accounts for over a third of reported ill health and 43% of ill health related absence from work. Stress can lead to numerous health problems, therefore it’s vital to know how to prevent it.
Benefits Of Tackling Stress
In a previous blog we discuss the importance of noticing the symptoms of stress early to avoid long term health problems. However, there are more than just health benefits. Have a look below:
Employees will feel happier which can have a positive effect on productivity.
A healthy workforce will lead to less days taken off sick.
If correct systems are in place, communication will be improved allowing individuals to talk about their problems.
Implementing change will be more effective if the workforce isn’t stressed.
You will be demonstrating to your workforce a commitment to improving their welfare. Therefore, they are more likely to show commitment to you.
The risk assessment is often the centre of the plan. It provides advice and direction to employers when dealing with workplace stress. There are five stages to a stress risk assessment:
- Identify the hazards (stressors at work)
- Who might be harmed and how
- Evaluate the risk and take action
- Record your findings
- Review and monitor your assessment over time
By following this structure, you will be providing yourself with guidance to help create a stress free environment.
Stage 1 – Identify the hazards
Firstly, consider all the aspects that could be the cause of stress in the workplace. For example, workplace bullying or a high workload due to staff of absence. Remember that not all problems are individual. Some will overlap and clash, therefore it’s important to take a holistic approach rather than a look at each problem individually. Have a look here at the causes of stress in last week’s blog.
Stage 2 – Who might be harmed and how
Secondly, it’s important to identify who’s at the greatest risk from the hazards. Many organisations will already have an idea on certain stressors in the workplace through data such as absenteeism. It is important to use this data as any patterns and trends will help identify a cause, for example, poor management. However, at this stage it’s also useful to consult the workforce as they can help give you a clearer idea on who is going to be affected and how. Good methods here would be through a survey or even a tool box talk.
Stage 3 – Evaluate the risk and take action
Thirdly, you need to take all the data collected from the previous stage and make sense of it. Focus groups are very effective here and should be made up from a representative sample of the workforce. When identifying how your results affect the workforce, the best way to determine it is to ask them. In the focus group you can work towards creating an action plan on how to reduce and eliminate the stressors.
Stage 4 – Record your findings
By now you will have consulted your employees, identified some key areas of concern and started taking some initial steps into finding a solution. It’s important now to record the result so you have data for comparison and evaluation. An action plan is a useful tool in recording findings and will help you work towards a goal and prioritise tasks.
Stage 5 – Review and monitor your assessment over time
Finally, it’s time to monitor and review your actions over time to get a clear idea on whether the changes are working. Have a look at a good evaluation process here. This stage is to give you an idea on what further action is still required if solutions aren’t working or whether successful actions can be implemented across other departments in the business.
Eric’s Top Tip
Eric had this to say about risk assessments:
Remember, stage 5 this is not the end of the process. You should periodically review your actions to identify what is working and what isn’t.
How Sure Safety Can Help
Stress can lead to high absenteeism and decreased productivity. Sure Safety’s consultants can help by conducting risk assessments to identify factors that could be causing high levels of stress. In addition, we can provide stress awareness training to help you and your employees identify the symptoms and we can review you policies to make sure stress is identified.
To arrange a consultation , call 029 2086 8802 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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