Stress may be defined as a ‘fear based reaction to a feeling of being out of control’.
In the UK, it is an increasingly important issue in the workplace as the following factors indicate:
- Stress is the main cause of absence. Over 13m working days are lost each year due to stress-related illness and the average time off work is 31 days
- There has been a dramatic increase in legal claims for compensation
- Certain workers are more likely to experience stress e.g. those aged over 35/educated to degree level/non-white/working in the public sector
- Employers have a ‘duty of care’ to ensure that, so far as reasonably practicable, staff do not suffer stress-related illness due to their work and employment practices are expected to conform to the Standards of Work-Related Stress set by the Health and Safety Executive in November 2004.
Managers need the confidence, understanding, knowledge and practical tools to prevent and reduce work-related stress.
Staff need an awareness of the signs, effects and causes of stress and the tools to deal with different work/life pressures in a more positive and pro-active way so that they can protect themselves and help others.
Stress management training can play a vital part in improving staff morale, reducing absenteeism and turnover and increasing productivity and so creating conditions for success.