The HSE Introduces a New Tool to Help Employers Handle Work-Related Stress

The total annual cost of poor mental health has risen by 25% since 2019, amounting to £56 billion a year for UK employers. This means that addressing work-related stress has never been more critical.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a new online learning tool as part of its Working Minds campaign to combat work-related stress. This free-to-use, interactive resource is designed to guide businesses through the essential steps needed to comply with legal duties and to encourage a proactive approach to managing stress in the workplace.

The HSE’s new online tool comprises six short modules, providing employers with practical insights into everyday scenarios related to work-related stress. From recognising signs of stress in individuals and teams to understanding its impact on regular lateness, withdrawal, and higher staff turnover, the tool is tailored to resonate with real-world workplace experiences. Lack of time, money, and know-how often hinder businesses in addressing stress issues, and this tool aims to provide a simple, engaging, and time-efficient solution.

Importance of Recognising Signs of Stress at Work

Recognising signs of work-related stress is essential for maintaining a healthy workplace. Changes in behaviour can often indicate stress in individuals or teams, and managers play a crucial role in identifying and addressing these signs early on.

For teams, signs may include increased arguments, higher staff turnover, elevated stress reports, more frequent sickness absences, decreased performance, and a rise in complaints or grievances.

On an individual level, changes in behaviour, such as taking more time off, arriving late for work, and displaying nervousness, can signify stress. Emotional and psychological shifts, like mood swings, withdrawal, loss of motivation, commitment, and confidence, or heightened emotional reactions, are also potential indicators. Early intervention can significantly reduce the impact of stress and contribute to a healthier work environment.

Why Will This Tool Be Good for UK Employers?

The tool encourages businesses of all sizes to conduct stress risk assessments and take actionable steps to prevent work-related stress. According to the law, employers, whether in small businesses or large corporations, are obligated to carry out stress risk assessments and implement findings to support good mental health in the workplace.

Over half of working days are lost due to stress, depression, or anxiety, making them the leading causes of work-related illness in the UK. The new tool is a proactive step toward mitigating these challenges.

Liz Goodwill (head of work-related stress policy at HSE) highlights the potential return on investment, citing the Mental Health and Employers report from Deloitte, which suggests an average return of £5.30 for every £1 invested in staff wellbeing.

The HSE tool aims to lower the investment cost for employers, offering them the opportunity to reap benefits such as increased productivity, fewer absences, and reduced staff turnover.

The Working Minds campaign encourages employers to follow five simple steps based on risk assessment:

  • Reach out and have conversations
  • Recognise the signs and causes of stress
  • Respond to identified risks
  • Reflect on actions taken, and make it Routine

By normalising conversations about stress and mental health, the campaign aims to create a workplace culture that supports employee wellbeing.

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