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Elephant in the room "Sorry I can not Function...I am Stressed"

Updated: Jun 24, 2019




Would you ever hear a work colleague disclose that to their employer?


Do employees think that they will be managed out of an organisation for declaring they are stresses? Do employees believe that their employer will performance manage them for being stressed? Is the employee worried that they may have to undergo tests to prove they are still capable to carry out their role?


All of these questions that the employee may go through their head are all about them, and perhaps really they need to start asking questions of employers.


The principle inspector of the Health & Safety Executive Andrew Kingscott, was a guest speaker at the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Conference for the public sector, and cites that stress remained one of the regulator’s top three health priorities.


He goes on to state the need for recognition of austerity within the public sector had led to a “downward spiral” as workers struggled with increasing workloads and “what is already a scant resource is now being reduced further through ill health due to work-related stress”. As a result, the highest incidence rates of stress are recorded in public services


According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2018; 595,000 employees reported feeling stress within the UK, and this resulted in 15.2 million working days being lost due to their stress related illness, causing or contributing to mental health. This is currently costing the UK economy over £70 billion per year, the cost to employers is over £26 billion per year.


According to a 2018 study by Mercer, a whopping third of all employees plan on quitting their job in the next 12 months. That number is astronomically high compared to when our parents and grandparents were our age. This increase in turnover is getting more and more expensive for organisations. In fact, one study revealed that replacing a high-talented employee will cost a organisation 200% of the employees annual salary.


According to the recent Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) Health and Well-being at Work review in 2018; Work-Stress related absence has increased over the last year in nearly two-fifths of organisations while even more report a rise in reported common mental health conditions. The majority of organisations are making some efforts to manage these issues, although nearly 3:10 of those who include stress among their top three causes of absence are not taking any steps to reduce it.


What are the triggers for all of this workplace stress? Is it the misconceptions about staff motivation, abilities, contribution towards their role? Is it the employers desire for an employee not to switch off? Does the mix of generations impact this? Is it that technology has evolved at such a rapid pace that the user end training can not keep up?


Let’s just look at the millennial's' who are willing to work longer, and later than the generation before them, or is it that they are also expected to work on the go? with pocket sized work stations (in mobile devices) and endless meetings, and the desire for more flexible working terms?


Yet we’ve all heard the endless stories about “lazy” millennial, and their extremely poor work ethic. Is this perhaps being stated by older generations who may be bitter, that millennial's' are leading the charge for less stressful and more meaningful work environments, they are anything but lazy. In fact, I’d argue that they’re just more aware of the harmful effects of a poor work-life balance.


So, is the fact that they are refusing to place climbing the career ladder at the detriment of their own health bad? Refusing to put work first before all other aspects of your life so wrong?

Is that the definition of lazy? ...I think not, I think it is admirable at their ability to look within, and to recognise and have a level of maturity that enables them to act in accordance with what is best for their well-being.


Not least looking at the employees themselves, but from government to policy writers, certainly more needs to be done in relation to action plans and investigations and the development of operational guidance for employers to ensure that they can monitor and manage workplace stress. Not limited to, but including risk assessments, procedures and ongoing management training, and then as a follow up any enforcement action taken by inspectors if it appears that there are consistent breaches of their duty to protect the employee.


According to The International Stress Management Agency, and what we find quite concerning are the statistics which present within the health sector; where by each new case of stress leads to an average of 29 days of work in the employees time. The average private sector employee has 6.4 sickness occurrences per year. This figure is 9.1 within the public sector.


Your2020Vision Ltd is committed to helping managers within the public sector, in particularly primary care, and GP practices, with understanding what their workplace triggers are for stress, and working through some practical steps either by coaching, mentoring or process mapping, and producing stress risk assessments and risk reduction plans to ensure managers can have sustainable careers. If you believe you may benefit from input form Your2020Vision Ltd please do get in touch: https://www.your2020vision.co.uk/contact




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