Work-Related Stress and Your Responsibilities as an Employer

We, at 4site, are familiar with the unique safety challenges that our clients face in their day-to-day work. With countless responsibilities fighting for attention, it’s not uncommon to go through intense periods of admin management, back-to-back residents’ meetings, extended periods of lone working and often skipping necessary breaks to tackle a perpetually growing ‘to-do’ list. In this article, we will cover your responsibilities as an employer, as well as actions you can take to prevent work-related stress.

The Health and Safety at Work Act – 50 years on :: WorkplaceDNAIt may surprise you to know that the toll of work-related stress on an individual’s well-being can be just as significant as any other risk. When coupling stress with a feeling of helplessness or lack of control, you have a toxic formula for burnout. Whilst this is a widely recognized risk, it is somewhat hidden and so often goes unnoticed in many workplaces, and, aside from the human cost, there are significant hidden financial impacts in lost time through stress-related illness and reduction in productivity. What’s more, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, via The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation Act 1999 places a legal obligation on employers to manage such risks. Creating a clear path to follow to ensure you comply with your responsibilities as an employer.

One common misconception surrounding stress is that it is always bad; it is important to note that when we are in control of (and elect to take on) anticipated stress. This can often result in a positive outcome, such as enhanced motivation and personal growth. Athletes, for example, regularly expose themselves to both physical and mental stressors to help them achieve their personal goals. The more commonly talked about stress, the negative kind, is what we are talking about today.

It has been well established that work-related stress can have significant effects on mental health. When it comes to physical health, some studies show the risk of coronary heart disease can increase by 30-50% in individuals experiencing sustained stress. Other adverse effects include a weakened immune system, sleep disorders, musculoskeletal problems, and diabetes.

What effect can work-related stress have on employees?

The sobering truth is that unaddressed exposure to persistent bad stress can impact our life expectancy. By not managing the physical impact of work-related stress, you might unknowingly be putting your own and your employees’ overall well-being at risk.

Work-related stress in the property industry often arises due to a combination of factors. Property managers continue to juggle an ever increasing and demanding routine full of responsibilities and growing regulatory requirements. The impact becomes overwhelming and can quickly lead to early symptoms of stress, such as headaches and stomach-aches, isolation, irritability, and even depression.

In terms of the long-term effects on organisations and the industry, when individuals are experiencing stress, their ability to focus, make sound decisions, and efficiently manage tasks can decline.  When professionals are exhausted and overwhelmed, they may not be able to give clients the attention and support they need. Therefore, indirectly, stress can lead to a decline in the quality of service provided to your clients and culminate in dissatisfied clients and reputational damage.

Aside from the moral and commercial benefits of managing the risk of stress and mitigating its impact on a property management company, there is also a clear legal requirement to manage the risk. So, where do you start?

Your Responsibilities as an Employer:

Identify any risks to employee’s health by carrying out a risk assessment of their activities

  • Identifying the risks of stress
  • Analyse the risk level
  • Introduce control measures to remove or reduce the risks
  • Agree on what steps to take and make any changes to avoid or reduce risks
  • Communicate any arrangements with your employees
  • Regularly review the plan

    Take reasonable steps to prevent or reduce work-related stress, as guided by the risk assessment

    This will provide you with a good foundation to build from, but the specific control measures will be individual to each risk and stressor. At 4site, we must practice what we preach, and at the heart of our approach lies a belief in the significance of good mental well-being and its direct impact on overall productivity within our company. We have implemented simple yet powerful strategies to prioritize mental health among our employees, and these may assist you in enacting your stress risk controls:

    1. Clear Work Boundaries

    Central to our approach is the clear and transparent communication of job responsibilities and expectations. By providing employees with a crystal-clear understanding of their roles, we ensure that workloads remain manageable and realistic, mitigating the risk of overwhelming stress.

    We have recently also grown our workforce to match the workload, ensuring adequate resourcing so that no one is bombarded with more than they can handle.

    1. Emphasising The Importance of Breaks

    Ensuring that all team members take regular lunch breaks is fundamental. This crucial time allows individuals to reset, recharge, and return to their tasks with renewed energy and focus.

    This is coupled with the encouragement of taking short 5-minute breaks throughout the day to not only prevent potential physical issues (such as eye strain, headaches, and fatigue) but also contribute to safeguarding our employees’ mental well-being.

    1. Prioritisation of a work-life balance.

    Commitment to the importance of downtime and encouraging our colleagues to take regular annual leave to recharge is fundamental. By valuing and investing in people, we strive to create a supportive and thriving work environment that mitigates the risk of burnout and promotes long-term success for both our team and our organization.

    1. Ergonomic Measures

    Managing not just the stress-related risks, investing in ergonomics recognizes and mitigates the physical toll that prolonged periods of work can take, prioritizing both comfort and productivity.

    1. The Team

    Cultivating a work culture and environment that supports and encourages open communication, allows team members to feel comfortable sharing their concerns and challenges. This approach allows the early identification of potential stressors and active collaboration in resolving them.

    1. A Positive Work Environment

    A positive attitude in the workplace at all levels of the organization can work wonders for employee morale, productivity, and overall well-being.

    Work-related stress within the property industry, as with any industry, is certainly a significant risk that has slipped under the radar in many organisations. Hopefully, however, by recognising the contributing factors and implementing preventive strategies, stakeholders can create a more resilient and sustainable work environment.

    Click here to find out more on the HSE’s guidance and advice on your responsibilities as an employer. Including home working, lone working, work related road safety, PPE and more. 

    If you do find yourself struggling to enact a policy, introduce relevant control measures, or would just like to discuss any of the above with one of our team of qualified safety professionals, then please give us a call or drop us an email and we will be happy to help.
    T: 01376 572936 
    E: office@4siteconsulting.co.uk  
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