CIPD, IIP and HSE join forces to issue management guidance to help employers tackle increasing levels of stress at work as recession bites

Posted: Thursday 2nd July 2009

New guidance, jointly funded by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD),the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)and Investors in People (IIP), is launched today as part of a four-year project to identify the management behaviours that will help organisations reduce stress at work.

The guidance, Line Management Behaviour and Stress at Work, draws from in-depth research involving interviews and surveys with hundreds of managers and employees, as well as an evaluation of manager training in stress management competencies across 17 organisations. It sets out the key management behaviours for managing stress at work.

The behaviours are grouped under four competency headings: managing and communicating existing and future work; reasoning/managing difficult situations; managing the individual within the team; and managing emotions and having integrity.

With ill-health relating to stress at work doubling between1990 and 2007, stress is now the second biggest cause of employee absence behind musculoskeletal conditions. This picture is likely to get worse as a result of the recession with the World Health Organisation predicting soaring levels of stress and other mental health problems in the next few years. A CIPD survey of 3,000 employees published last month* shows that about half have seen an increase in stress at work as a result of the downturn.

Ben Willmott, Senior Public Policy Adviser, CIPD, says:

“This research and guidance shows that managing stress at work is part and parcel of good people management. Employers that invest in training and developing their managers to ensure they exhibit the behaviours that manage stress at work will also reap benefits in terms of reduced conflict and staff turnover, as well as increased motivation and commitment.

“Long-term exposure to stress is linked to conditions such as anxiety and depression, as well as physical conditions such as heart disease, back pain and headaches.’

Rob Hargreaves, Head of Product Development, IIPUK, says:

“Rising workplace stress is leading to reduced productivity. Employers are naturally looking to cut costs but savings should not be made at the expense of equipping managers will fundamental knowledge, behaviours and skills to support their teams. Providing support to employees through difficult times is likely to will lead to increased loyalty, commitment and future growth.”

Peter Brown,HSEHead of Health at Work Division says:

“This guidance will help organisations ensure that line managers help to support employee health and resilience as well as meet their obligations under health and safety law to identify and manage work-related stress.

‘An investment in the management and prevention of stress at work is an investment in your organisation’s future. Stress at work has both human and business costs. By working with these competencies managers can help their businesses make big savings.’

*CIPD survey report Employee outlook: Employee attitudes and the

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