This blog is aimed at managers or staff with responsibility for managing the potential causes of work-related stress in your organisation. That might be the person who has responsibility for co-ordinating your stress risk assessment, human resources managers, health and safety officers, trade union representatives or line managers. Use this information to review your risk management plan for stress in the workplace or mental health and well-being.


What is stress?

Stress is the adverse reaction people experience to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them. There is a clear distinction between pressure, which can create a ‘buzz’ and be a motivating factor, and stress, which can occur when this pressure becomes excessive.

In June, it was discovered that Tyne and Wear was the fourth most stressed region in the UK and on average, adults report feeling stress at least once a month. The most common reason for stress was also work-related.

Research has shown work-related stress to have adverse effects for organisations in terms of:

  • employee commitment to work
  • staff performance and productivity
  •  accidents caused by human error
  • staff turnover and intention to leave
  • attendance levels
  •  staff recruitment and retention
  • customer satisfaction
  • organisational image and reputation
  • potential litigation

Consider the potential effects of work-related stress on your team as well. For instance, the workload and morale of the rest of the team may suffer significantly if one team member is absent for an extended period of time due to a stress-related illness.

Business benefits

You can prevent or lessen the effects of these issues on your organisation and provide commercial benefits by taking steps to minimise the sources of stress in the workplace. A number of organisations that have taken steps to address the pressures that can lead to stress at work are already providing examples of this.

In order to avoid illness, the causes of work-related stress must be managed. There is now solid proof that prolonged periods of stress, particularly stress from the workplace, are harmful to one’s health. There are clear connections between stress and:

  • physical effects such as heart disease, back pain, headaches, gastrointestinal
    disturbances or various minor illnesses; and
  • psychological effects such as anxiety and depression, loss of concentration and poor decision making.

Stress can also cause additional behaviours, such as social withdrawal, violent behaviour, alcohol and drug misuse, eating disorders, and excessive hours at the office, that can negatively impact one’s mental and physical health.

To help lower the levels of work-related stress that British workers report, HSE created the Management Standards approach. The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of workers who miss work due to illness or are under stress and are unable to perform properly at work. In order to apply the Management Standards, we urge businesses to collaborate with workers and their representatives and consistently improve how they handle demands at work that can lead to work-related stress. Both employees and businesses will benefit from this.

Managers receive the assistance they need to accomplish these goals through the Management Standards approach. Through risk assessment, it exemplifies best practices, permits assessment of the existing situation using surveys and other tools, and encourages active conversation with employees to aid in choosing real improvements.

What are the work-related stress management standards?

The Management Standards outline the traits, or culture, of an organisation that successfully manages and controls the hazards associated with work-related stress.

They include six crucial elements of the architecture of the workplace that, if poorly managed, are linked to poor health and well-being, decreased productivity, and an increase in sick days. The six Management Standards thereby address the main causes of stress at work. Which are:

Demands – this includes issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment.

Control – how much say the person has in the way they do their work.

Support – this includes the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues.

Relationships – this includes promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour.

Role – whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures they do not have conflicting roles.

Change – how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation.

How can the Management Standards approach help organisations manage the pressures that can result in work-related stress?

Employers have a duty to ensure that risks arising from work activity are properly controlled.

The Management Standards approach helps simplify risk assessment for work-related stress by:

  • identifying the main risk factors;
  • helping employers focus on the underlying causes and their prevention;
  • providing a step-by-step approach to carrying out a risk assessment;
  • encourages employers, employees and their representatives to work in partnership to address potential sources of work-related stress throughout the organisation;
  • provides a yardstick by which organisations can gauge their performance in managing the key causes of stress.

Carry out a risk assessment – this won’t reduce work-related stress itself, but the actions you take as a result will do so.

Do I have to follow the Management Standards approach to risk assessment for work-related stress?

The Management Standards for work-related stress provide a risk management strategy that includes a number of crucial elements thought to be crucial to reducing the causes of stress. If you correctly implement this risk assessment and management method, you will be using a strategy that is regarded as appropriate and sufficient. evaluating your own method Following the Management Standards step-by-step process may help you save time if you are beginning from scratch.

To measure the risk of work-related stress, you may already have your own method, like many other organisations. For instance, you might avoid using the word “stress” and instead emphasise good things like wellness or productive workplaces.

You might discover that, as a smaller organisation, you can use the Management Standards risk assessment approach to complete your risk assessment and put your action plan into effect much more quickly than larger organisations. For instance, organising the activities needed in getting the organisation ready and gaining commitment may be considerably simpler and take less time.

For more information and resources, head over to HSE and take a look at the management standards for stress at work and other mental health.


Talbot Jones Ltd is a family-run Chartered Insurance Broker specialising in Third Sector and Professional risksGet in touch for free insurance advice, review or quotation.

Talbot Jones Ltd incorporates March Insurance Services, a Chartered Insurance Broker specialising in Agricultural and Hospitality Risks.