What is a workplace stress risk assessment?
Work-related stress is one of the most common things that people experience. In manageable amounts, it can lead to improvements in productivity. Still, when stress at the workplace reaches excessive levels, it becomes potentially damaging to your workforce’s mental well-being and even your work operations.
This is where the implementation of a workplace stress risk assessment makes a difference — it was designed to protect your employees’ health from work-related stress. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1947 and Management and Health and Safety at Work (MHSW) Regulations 1999 mandated that employers take necessary means to guarantee the health, welfare, and safety of their workforce at work — mental health included. This means that as an employer, you have a legal duty to conduct a workplace stress risk assessment and act upon it.
In a report released by the Health and Safety Executive, the total tally for work-related ill health cases caused by work stress in the United Kingdom spiked to a whopping 51% between 2019 to 2020. That percentage translates to over 828,000 employees experiencing chronic stress, depression, and anxiety due to their working environment. While in the United States, the American Institute of Stress Survey result showed that work stress caused more health problems than marital or monetary stress. On top of this, over 25% consider their job as the primary stressor in their lives.
What these numbers essentially tell us is this: workplace stress is a prevalent issue that cannot be ignored. Using a workplace stress questionnaire, you can identify all the factors contributing to the stress your team is experiencing and take actionable steps to provide a healthier work environment. When done right, it can yield a two-way benefit:
- It prevents employee burnouts and enables them to have healthier overall wellbeing.
- It can lead to increased business success because your people can operate in their best mental and emotional state.
This article covers the following topics:
What are the factors that cause stress in the workplace?
While it is true that there is no one cause of stress because employees may have professional and personal factors influencing their perception of your organization’s working conditions. It is still best practice to cover all your bases and conduct a generic stress risk assessment. According to the HSE, there are six key factors where work-related stress is prevalent. These are known as the Management Standards and cover the aspects of work typically associated with poor health, decreased productivity, and higher absence rates when not managed properly.
Here are the six areas you have to watch out for:
- Task demands. This covers issues like workload, pace, work hours, and environment. People who experience stress under this category either feel extremely pressured with their responsibilities or have problems with having too little work.
- Control. This factor covers a person’s autonomy in their workplace: how they can do their work and whether they are given tasks that leave room for independent decision-making. This is typically true for employees who are micro-managed down to the last detail.
- Support. This is where training, recognition, and employee programs fall under. When an organization does not actively support its workforce, its employees can feel unappreciated and overwhelmed.
- Relationships. This pertains to the interpersonal relationships between your employees. Good working relationships can produce better communication and a healthy environment, but unacceptable behaviors like conflicts, cases of harassment, and even discrimination can lead to stress. These factors are usually not observed by management unless raised by employees and can cause anxiety for those who are not confrontational. So, filling up a stress risk assessment form can be a comfortable and safe medium for issues to be put into light.
- Role. This ensures that your employees have clear job responsibilities and understand their role in the organization. Whenever roles are redundant or conflicting, it can be confusing and stressful for the employee. A workplace stress risk assessment can help you identify and resolve them.
- Change. This is about how effectively your management communicates organizational changes and ushers your workforce into transitions. These changes can cause feelings of uncertainty among your employees, leading to stress and anxiety if not addressed.
A well-drafted workplace stress questionnaire can significantly impact preventing burnout and mental health problems in the long haul. Though the emphasis is often on protecting your employees’ welfare, it can also benefit your business more than you may think.
When it comes to stress management in the workplace, taking a proactive posture is better than a reactive response. It can be detrimental to your business operations and reputation if by-products of workplace stress start to build right under your nose. A generic stress risk assessment can help you spot mistakes before they escalate. It’s also important to ensure your employees are supported and comfortable in their roles. Conducting an workplace ergonomics survey or assessment can help ensure that ergonomic factors in the office are up to the required standards.
How do you perform a workplace stress risk assessment?
Conducting a stress risk assessment is relatively straightforward. Here are six steps to approaching the Management Standard, effectively draft a workplace stress questionnaire, and performing the assessment:
1. Identify the risk factors
When spotting potential risk factors, the HSE recommends first focusing on team-level or department-level issues that impact a bigger number of employees. Starting on a macro level can be more efficient as removing one stressor can already have a big impact on multiple individuals. Once you’ve sorted through the organizational-level stressors, it’s easier to manage individual cases.
Identifying workplace stressors can be tricky. However, there are several ways you can do this. For example, you can check employee attendance sheets, performance evaluations, exit interviews, and employee reviews. If you see a problem with excessive absences, then dig deeper into the relationship and workload factors. You can even spend some time on different floors or departments and observe the workplace interactions.
2. Determine the people who are affected and how it affects them
Once you have identified the people in your workforce who are suffering from work-related stress, you can ask them to fill in the questionnaire to gather data. In this stage, it would be good to educate them on your initiative to provide a better work environment and encourage them to be as truthful as possible as they answer. Remember that the quality of the data you gather is critical to have an objective analysis that can yield optimal results.
3. Evaluate the risk and implement safety measures
Your next step is analysis. Using the data, you gathered, pinpoint the stress factors and establish corrective actions and preventive measures. This is where you assess how serious the identified stressors are, their consequences, and the significance of their impact on the business. The natural course of action you would take in this step is to establish a risk priority scheme to know which stressors should be addressed first.
4. Record your findings
Make sure to comprehensively document all your findings and detail the next steps that should be taken. This not only functions as evidence that an assessment was conducted but also as a basis for future reviews.
5. Monitor and evaluate
The change will not happen overnight and will not take effect without proper monitoring. So, make it a point to conduct periodic checks to see if the corrective actions are being followed through properly. Consider including follow-up surveys in your assessment strategy, so you always have a clear idea of what’s happening with your workforce. In order to achieve a sustainable change, monitoring and follow-ups should be continuous.
Reduce workplace stress with a digital tool
Completing a stress risk assessment should not place an additional burden on employers and employees. However, filling out paper forms can result in information being lost or having to worry about returning forms in a timely manner. In addition, paper documents make it difficult to analyze data and track whether stress management measures have been implemented.
Converting to digital forms management can counteract these stressors. Lumiform’s mobile app and desktop software offer the ability to create and complete Stress Risk Assessment forms digitally. There is also no need to manually complete the subsequent evaluation. All collected data is securely stored in the cloud and can be easily analyzed using Lumiform’s analytics feature. Take advantage of a digital application for stress management in your company:
- Get started digitally right away by using one of our stress risk assessment templates from the Lumiform library, or digitize your existing paper forms.
- Perform stress risk assessments from your smartphone or tablet via the app, which is possible offline and online.
- Generate reports on assessments automatically to share with other responsible employees or your team.
- Evaluate your collected information with the help of the analysis dashboard and derive measures for stress management in your company from your results.
- Care for data security and privacy by storing everything securely in the cloud, preventing access by third parties.
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