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Stress is much in the news at present but it isn’t a new problem. Pressure is part and parcel of all work and helps to keep us motivated. But excessive pressure can lead to stress which undermines performance, is costly to employers and can make people ill.
HSE estimates that 13.5 million working days were lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2007/08. Each new case of stress leads to an average of
31 days off work. Work-related stress costs society about £3.7 billion every year (at 1995/96 prices).
If organisations can reduce stress they can reduce these costs, and effective management is the best way of doing this. Recent research links effective
people management to good performance and productivity.
The need to tackle stress is also recognised in law. Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at
Work Regulations 1999, employers are obliged to undertake a risk assessment for health hazards at work – including stress – and to take action
to control that risk.
However, for many people ‘stress’ still represents something of an unknown quantity. HSE has addressed this problem by developing Management Standards to help employers measure their performance in managing the
key causes of stress at work and identify areas for improvement.
The Standards look at the demands made on employees; the level of control employees have over their work; the support employees receive from managers and colleagues; the clarity of an employee’s role within the organisation; the nature of relationships at work; and the way that change
The Standards are based on extensive research. During their development, HSE has consulted widely with employers, employees, trade unions and other interested organisations. HSE is not trying to take the ‘buzz’ out of work or set
impossible targets. The Management Standards approach is about helping and encouraging organisations to continuously improve the way they tackle work-related stress.