Tackling Work Related Stress At The Source

We have all seen the posts, videos and articles all over social media commenting on what stress is and how we can best manage it. From building coping strategies to working on levels of personal resilience, the internet is awash with ideas on how to be more stress-free.

Yet from an organisational perspective, it’s not quite so simple. There is no quick fix solution and this complex issue needs (and warrants) a comprehensive solution that works in managing the psychosocial risks that lead to work related stress.

So where do you start?

Different approaches to tackling these risks are broadly classified as primary, secondary and tertiary interventions whereby primary interventions tackle the underlying cause of the stress, secondary interventions focus more on the impact and intensity of the stress symptoms and tertiary interventions aim to treat workers who are already experiencing chronic health conditions. Given that the primary level approach aims to create a working environment free from undue stress it would seem the most logical and effective way to tackle the problem as it eliminates the stress at source instead of merely reacting once the proverbial horse has bolted.

Yet this takes time. It takes commitment. It takes gaining an in-depth understanding of the problematic characteristics of an organisation and the impact these may have on the workforce.

Essentially, an approach of this nature is the purpose of a risk assessment based on the HSE Management Standards, a strategy which is congruent with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and which explore questions based on change, relationships and role as well as the subjects of demand, control and support which embed vital items from the Karasek demand-control theory. These standards establish areas of the workplace which can be readily explored with employees to ask what areas of their work may be detrimental to their health.

This employee engagement is one of the most important elements of the process, in fact involving the workforce in the development and de