Wellbeing, what’s the cost?

30th of September 2021 Article by Lynn Webster
Wellbeing, what’s the cost?

In the wake of the pandemic, there’s a distinct focus on staff wellbeing - explains Lynn Webster in the UK.

As we begin to come through both the business and personal traumas resulting from the pandemic there is a distinct focus on staff wellbeing; the mental and physical health issues they are experiencing both personally and in the workplace. The significant proportion of our lives spent in the workplace seriously impacts on our psychological wellbeing. Therefore, as employers there is a responsibility to protect the psychosocial health of our staff.

There is a number of ways that stresses are identified in our work roles; remembering what may stress one person may not affect another in the same way. The demands of the job have a major impact that can result in arguments, grievances and complaints within the team, increases in staff turnover or in sickness absence, and subsequential decreases in performance and productivity.

Staff can feel stress when they are unable to deal with work pressures, when they don’t have the time or skills to meet tight deadlines. Provision of effective planning and offering training or support can reduce such anxiety and bring stress levels down.

Whereas the diagnosis of stress related issues is not the employer’s on-line manager’s responsibility, spotting the signs and providing help is.  Taking action can bring business benefit, reduce absenteeism and, by boosting staff morale, improve performance.

Spotting the signs of stress is straightforward in close working environments - identifying mood swings, individuals becoming withdrawn, losing motivation, commitment and self-confidence or becoming more emotional. However when this is the cleaning operative, often working in isolation outside of the ‘normal’ working hours or without regular personal contact with their supervisor, this becomes challenging.

When an operational supervisor or area manager manages 50 separate sites which they visit once a month, how can they recognise such behaviours? Specially if their visit was to meet the client rather than having significant time with the cleaning team. Difficult, yes! Impossible, no!

Across the UK work-related stress accounts for over half (57 per cent) of working days lost to ill health. In the last 12 months, over 600,000 workers reported suffering from stress, depression or anxiety, caused or made worse by work.

We know there is a key responsibility of all employers as a general duty of care to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all employees and this includes their mental health. ISO 45003-2021, in supporting ISO 45001, gives guidance on managing psychological health and safety at work; identifying the conditions, circumstances and workplace demands that have potential to impair the psychological health and wellbeing of the staff; how to identify primary risk factors and assess them to determine what changes are required to improve the working environment.

It prioritises people by supporting their mental health with simple, practical guidance on how to manage the psychosocial hazards that arise in the work environment.

The HSE also provides a useful toolkit: https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/assets/docs/stress-talking-toolkit.pdf in support of this process.


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