Why Workplace Stress Statistics Haven’t Improved in 10 Years

A definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. It’s time for a new perception about work related stress, a new approach to dealing with it and a little sanity check is long over due.

In the UK we have a wealth of research, advice sites and online stress buster tips anyone can turn to if they are experiencing stress and yet stress is still a massive problem and financial burden to business.

Stress amounts to a large hole in a company’s financial bucket from which hard earned resources sometimes leak but often gush out from. While many companies focus on either getting a bigger bucket or filling the existing bucket up quicker, many fail to properly look at plugging the sink hole caused by workplace stress.

When I say, “properly look,” I mean looking elsewhere other then the research, advice sites and stress buster tips mentioned earlier. They rarely help. Advising someone to ensure they take breaks, have a holiday or talk to their line manager more, are not the solutions and here is why I say that.

In 2007 The HSE introduced Management Standards in an effort to reduce Stress at work.

The Management Standards cover six key areas of work design that, if not properly managed, are associated with poor health and well being, lower productivity and increased sickness absence. In other words, the six Management Standards cover the primary sources of stress at work

  • the demands of your job;
  • your control over your work;
  • the support you receive from managers and colleagues;
  • your relationships at work;
  • your role in the organisation;
  • change and how it’s managed.

Source: UK Health & Safety Executive

All positive, all useful and for many companies who implement rigorous risk assessment Standards, they experience positive changes, yet there is one statement on the HSE site which speaks volumes.

“The estimated number and rate have remained broadly flat for more than a decade”

Source: HSE Labour Force Survey

I put that sentence in bold and a larger font to make the point. Across the board the Standards have made little impact on the overwhelmingly large figures made up of days off sick (Absenteeism) , losses to trunover and the cost of impaired performance  (Presenteeism) due to workplace stress. When it comes to workplace stress there is obviously some method to our madness, maybe what we now need is some madness to our methods – another approach.

I want to make clear I am not saying the Standards aren’t relevant, I am in full support of the work of the HSE and the Standards, they provide useful strategies for addressing policies and procedures. But here is the problem. They address what people do and how they do it yet, they fail to address the human element of stress “the mindset of the individual”the who is doing the what and the how.

They fail to coach or train coping strategies that enable people to deal with demand, control, support, relationships, role and changes. They fail to coach or train coping strategies that empower people to bounce back from setbacks and to be resilient through challenges and changes.

When changes to policies and procedures are combined with changes to the mindset of the people that have to follow them, a company has a winning formula. They find they have not only  plugged a gaping financial black hole but they have a more empowered, happier and healthier work force.

More information about Stress Management, Resilience Training and Stress Management Coaching Programmes can be found on the “The Wellbeing at Work Formula” page.

If you have any questions or would like to know how Steve could help you achieve more then you can take one of the following steps:


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