Tackling workplace stress: HSE publishes five-step guide for British businesses in Stress Awareness Month

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Five steps to combat stress in the workplace unveiled

This April, as part of Stress Awareness Month, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is urging employers across Britain to adopt a five-step approach to mitigate and manage workplace stress.

The initiative is part of the HSE’s Working Minds campaign, aiming to support mental health in the workplace by encouraging employers to engage actively in the mental well-being of their workers.

Liz Goodwill, the head of the work-related stress and mental health policy team at HSE, emphasised the importance of this initiative: “We are inviting business owners, employers, and managers to join others across Britain to make a difference during Stress Awareness Month in five steps.”

The campaign’s structured approach focuses on the ‘5 Rs’: Reach out, Recognise, Respond, Reflect, and make it Routine, guiding employers through the process of identifying, addressing, and normalising conversations around workplace stress.

Legal obligations and support tools

Preventing work-related stress is not only a moral responsibility but also a legal one.

All employers in Britain are obligated to address work-related stress, helping to foster good mental health within their organisations.

The Working Minds campaign provides numerous resources, including free online learning, Talking Toolkits, risk assessment templates, and examples to aid businesses and workers alike.

Goodwill further elaborated on the legal implications for employers: “Failing to manage work-related stress can cost employers in reduced productivity, sickness absence costs, or even losing a valued member of the team.

“Employers are required to assess the risk of work-related stress impacting their workers and act on the risks identified.”

Campaign partners and support for a proactive approach

The campaign has garnered support from over 30 organisations, including the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH).

Rachel Suff, senior policy advisor at the CIPD, stressed the necessity for a proactive approach to mental health: “Many organisations are reactive and tend to put more emphasis on providing support when people become ill rather than on prevention, including for mental ill health and stress.

“We want to see every organisation taking a proactive approach to employee wellbeing.”

Matt Powell-Howard, Head of Product Development at NEBOSH, also expressed his support: “I’m really pleased that NEBOSH is supporting the Working Minds campaign as we are committed to promoting good mental health and preventing work-related stress.”

IFSJ Comment:

The HSE’s Working Minds campaign’s focus on addressing workplace stress through a systematic, month-long initiative underscores the growing recognition of mental health‘s importance in occupational safety and health.

By providing a structured framework for employers to tackle stress, the campaign aims to enhance individual well-being and improve overall organisational health.

This approach, supported by the legal framework, underscores the necessity of integrating mental health considerations into the fabric of workplace health and safety strategies.

As businesses continue to navigate the challenges of maintaining a healthy workforce, the principles outlined by the HSE serve as a valuable guide for fostering a supportive and resilient work environment.

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