The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regards work-related stress as a major employment risk. As well as the distress caused to individuals, stress-related employee absence is estimated to cost the UK economy in the region of £3.8 billion per year.
Early reports and guidance on work-related stress concentrated on the legal health and safety duty to assess risk and to take measures to control the risk. More recently there has been a greater emphasis on effective management skills as the key to managing and preventing work-related stress. The HSE's current guidance emphasises that effective stress management does not have to be a separate activity, but should be part of everyday management and behaviour in the workplace.
"Many organisations are already doing more than they realise to tackle stress simply by managing their staff well. What is important is that the organisation and its employees and their representatives recognise where there is room for improvement and take action by working together" (Real Solutions, Real People: a managers' guide to tackling work-related stress. HSE, 2003).
The HSE's guidance on the prevention and management of stress is based on a set of 'management standards'. These define the characteristics of organisations where stress is being managed effectively. The University, through the Safety Office, Occupational Health Service, People and Organisational Development, and University HR, has developed this guidance based on the HSE management standards approach. In addition, the Occupational Health Service website provides resources, with the aim of assisting staff to prevent and pro-actively manage stressors.