The well-being of a workforce is essential to both their physical and mental health. Whilst pressures from outside work can affect health and well-being, an employer should be controlling the factors within the workplace that may affect the health of employees by promoting a good, supportive working climate and environment, and a culture of openness, where employees concerned about their well-being can access appropriate support.

Poor well-being, usually a result of excessive stress, is most commonly associated with the effects of unreasonable pressures of work including bullying, harassment and discrimination. Whilst stress is most often seen as workload related there are other factors that cause stress, such as:

  • task-related factors – the task being physically or mentally beyond the individual’s capacity, information overload, repetitive or boring tasks etc.
  • interpersonal factors – day-to-day interaction with people, bullying, abuse and harassment.
  • role ambiguity – the individual has no clear idea of what is expected of them.
  • role conflict – opposing demands are made on an individual by different people.
  • little or no recognition for work done.
  • personal threat – threat to personal safety or fear of redundancy or dismissal.
  • environmental factors: noise, heat, lighting or cleanliness.

Stress at work can also have an adverse impact on an employer’s business through;

  • increased sickness absence, resulting in workloads being shared among the remaining staff and possibly causing them stress.
  • increased sickness absence, resulting in workloads being shared among the remaining staff and possibly causing them stress.
  • reduced staff morale.
  • reduced staff performance.
  • staff seeking alternative employment requiring additional resources for recruiting, inducting, and training replacement staff.

The earlier an employee’s symptoms of stress at work are recognised the easier it is to control and manage. Employers should therefore have a policy on work-related stress, outlining their commitment to preventing work-related stress, and the arrangements which have been put in place to prevent undue stress. In the event of complaints of work-related stress, there should also be arrangements for an employee to raise the matter and for the investigation of those complaints.