Stress is identified as a workplace hazard, and employers need to take ‘all reasonably practicable steps’ to avoid their employees experiencing harm caused by workplace stress.
In New Zealand, Health and Safety legislation has made it possible for organisations to be held liable for psychological harm to their employees.
According to research, only 2% to 3% of people are absent from work for stress-related, psychological disorders, while 40% of those who stay at work show signs of heightened psychological stress that interferes with their work.
This ‘presenteeism’ accounts for a significant portion of work stress costs to individuals, employers and society.
(see: Brun, Biron, Martel, & Ivers, 2003)
Requesting employees to ‘Toughen Up’ is not considered ‘taking reasonable steps’ – and neither is ‘pampering’ them to the economic detriment of the organisation.
Identifying occupational stress ‘hot spots’ in your organisation is the first reasonable step to manage and contain the impact work demands and economic necessities may have on your employees.
The next step to making necessary and feasible changes is critically looking at:
- Processes (including organisational changes),
- Leadership styles
- Individuals’ coping mechanisms
As development facilitator I can support organisations and individuals in becoming aware of occupational stress sources, and assist in identifying and implementing solutions that work for them.