Early intervention and action will reduce the likelihood of the individual becoming ill and needing to take sick leave, and will increase the likelihood of a successful outcome for both the individual and the department.
If a member of staff is thought to be suffering from stress or at risk of stress, the line manager should arrange to meet the person to discuss the issues on a confidential basis with a view to identifying and addressing the causes of workplace stress and ensure that the member of staff has been advised that they may be accompanied by a colleague or staff representative, if they so wish.
The checklist based on the HSE management standards will provide a framework for such meetings.
At the meeting that manager should:
- provide a supportive environment in which the staff member feels able to discuss problems and worries;
- identify in discussion with the staff member the source(s) of stress;
- agree a plan of action both to relieve stress points in the short term (eg by providing additional support/training, or reassigning a particular piece of work), and to address the underlying causes in the longer term;
- where is it not possible to remove the stressors, assist the staff member to develop more effective coping strategies (eg through training, or the resources available from the Occupational Health Service website, or the counselling services)
- assess the impact of any special arrangements on other staff to ensure that they are not themselves subjected to undue stress as a consequence;
- monitor and review the situation regularly with the individual, and adjust the action plan as required;
- if the individual in question is an academic holding a joint appointment with a college, discuss with the individual whether they would wish to involve the college.
Sources of help and advice
Occupational Health Service information and resources: All staff may access the information about stress and the resources available on the Occupational Health Service website, to empower staff to recognise and manage stressful situations more effectively.
Training: ThePeople and organisational development (POD) runs seminars specifically focussing on stress management skills, as well as seminars on assertiveness and on time management. It also runs job-related skills training.
Bullying/Harassment: The Diversity and Equal Opportunities website contains advice on harassment, including the University's code of practice on harassment, how to resolve issues informally and formally, and information about the support offered by harassment advisers and how to contact them.
Counselling: The Occupational Health Service is able to arrange prompt access to counselling for staff suffering from work-related stress, with the aim of supporting individuals, preventing illness, and minimising disruption to departments' work by improving individuals' ability to undertake their duties and responsibilities effectively. Individuals may refer themselves, or the department (with the individual's consent) may make a management referral in the usual way. The individual will be assessed by Occupational Health staff who will then refer them to a counsellor, or elsewhere if the clinical judgement is that counselling is not appropriate.
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