Stress at Work

Deadlines? Hours? Pressure? A lot of things about people’s current work life can cause necessary stress. Knowing, managing and dealing with stress in the workplace has become a hot topic due to mental health awareness.

Often employees benefit from a certain level of stress at work to keep them motivated and organised. This is where the difficulty lies for the employer as they must assess when there is too much stress on the employee. Creating an environment whereby employees feel like they can talk about the pressures on themselves will help the company manage stress.

Industries such as Medical, Educational and Public Sector have all been highlighted as having higher than average rates of stress.  The strain of stress is not only felt by the employee but also by the Company. Approximately 12 million working days were lost in 2016-2017 due to work related stress and depression.

Implementing new company initiatives is one way to reduce and manage stress:

1. Employee Assistance Programmes

EAP Schemes are a great way to provide extra support for employees who may not want to openly talk about the way they are feeling at work. Purchasing an Employee Assistance Programme will provide all employees with the opportunity to speak to a third party to discuss the workplace issues they are experiencing.

2. Encourage Break

Leading by example as a manager to take regular breaks has shown to improve work related stress. Taking half an hour break from your screen or task has been found to not only reduce employee stress but also improve nutritional habits, improve mood and allow yourself to relax.

3. Flexibility at Work

44% over people stated in 2015-2016 that workload was the greatest cause of stress at work. As companies become more productive and efficient work loads can often be mismanaged. It is important to regularly assess employee’s workloads and potentially offer more flexibility in terms of working hours and duties to lighten the burden.

The above aren’t the only ways to reduce stress. Identifying stress and finding its cause can often be difficult and it is important as an employee you tailor a solution to suit the employee. Doing so the employee will feel supported by the company and not isolated.

If you have any concerns in relation to work place stress contact our HR team who will be happy to support you.

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How To Survive TUPE…

What is TUPE?

It is an acronym that stands for the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 as amended by the Collective Redundancies and Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (Amendment) Regulations 2014.

You can see why people just use TUPE instead.

What Does it Do?

The TUPE rules apply to organisations of all sizes and protect employees’ rights when the organisation or service they work for transfers to a new employer. A person’s terms and conditions of employment are preserved upon transfer to the new owner or employer. No business is exempt from TUPE whatever their size.

When Does this Happen?

There are two situations when TUPE will usually apply.

  1. A business transfer – put simply when the whole or part of a business changes hands; and
  2. Service provision change – where there is a change of employer providing a service e.g. cleaning services or rubbish collection.

There are special rules where the business concerned is insolvent (administration or liquidation).

Therefore, as an employer, whenever you decide to buy or sell all or part of a business or a service you should be asking yourself the following questions:

  • Does TUPE apply to this transaction?
  • And if it does what do I need to do?

Big Question why should I be bothered about this???

Answer – get it wrong or ignore it at your peril as both the buyer and seller can be sued by employees affected by TUPE.

If an employee feels that the transfer of the service or part of the business they work for has treated them unlawfully/unfairly they can apply to an Employment Tribunal citing both the new and old employer as being in breach of TUPE and let the Tribunal decide if one or other is at fault or both are.

This a situation best avoided as an employer or employers can be held liable for the following awards of compensation:

  1. Automatically unfair dismissal claim – up to £83,682 or 52 weeks pay (the lesser applying).
  2. A failure to inform and consult with employees – up to 13 weeks for each employee affected.
  3. Failure to provide employee liability information – £500
  4. The cost of defending a claim in Tribunal – an average of £8,500 (British Chambers of Commerce 2017) with little or no chance of getting this back even if the employer is proven to be right.

Would you Like to Know What to do & How to Avoid TUPE’s Pitfalls?

Then give us a call on 01527 571617, email our HR Team or fill in the form below.

 

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Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental health problems in the UK workforce cost employers almost £35 billion last year (2016), according to research published today by Centre for Mental Health. Deloitte’s in another study covering the same period give a range of between £33 – 42 billion.

Mental health at work: The business costs ten years on finds that by far the largest part of the business cost is in the form of reduced productivity among people who are at work but unwell: or ‘presenteeism’. This costs businesses twice as much as sickness absence relating to poor mental health. The remainder of the cost relates to turnover – people leaving their jobs as a result of poor mental health.

The IOD in its own report stated, “If you’re still in any doubt about the impact of mental health at work upon British business, here are 7 stats that will change your mind…”

15.8 million – The number of work hours that are lost each year because of mental health issues including stress, depression, anxiety as well as more serious conditions such as manic depression and schizophrenia. This makes up 11.5% of the total number of sick days for 2016 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

25% – The year on year increase of the number of days taken off work because of mental health issues.

500,000 – Last year, over half a million Brits suffered from stress at work, resulting in an average of 24 days lost per worker at a cost of more than £5billion. Professor Sir Cary L Cooper is a renowned psychologist who lectures at Manchester Business School. He believes that the uncertainties surrounding Britain’s departure from the EU will cause that figure to rise. Cooper recently said, “My fear is that bill will grow substantially during the next two years or longer, both direct costs and indirectly in terms of significantly lower productivity per worker.”

21% – In a recent survey carried out by MIND, more than one in five UK workers called in sick to avoid work when asked how workplace stress had affected them.

£226bn – Research from the Mental Health Foundation estimates that the output of people with common mental health problems in the workplace is nine times (or £25bn) more than the cost of mental health problems to economic output. That output is equal to 12.1% of Britain’s GDP.

15.9% – The percentage of the UK working population in 2015 that had mental health problems.

4.5% – The economic burden of poor mental health upon the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Increasing awareness of mental health across the business community could therefore play a key role in addressing Britain’s ‘productivity puzzle’.

Mind the mental health charity has published the following figures:

Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.

In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week.

Are Mental Health Problems Increasing?

The overall number of people with mental health problems has not changed significantly in recent years, but worries about things like money, jobs and benefits can make it harder for people to cope.

It appears that how people cope with mental health problems is getting worse as the number of people who self-harm or have suicidal thoughts is increasing.

How Common Are Specific Problems?

Every seven years a survey is done in England to measure the number of people who have different types of mental health problems. It was last published in 2016 and reported these figures:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder 9 in 100 people
  • Depression 3 in 100 people
  • Phobias 4 in 100 people
  • OCD 3 in 100 people
  • Panic disorder 6 in 100 people
  • Post traumatic stress disorder 4 in 100 people
  • Mixed anxiety and depression 8 in 100 people

Furthermore, as part of Government austerity measures there has been pressure on mental health services which have been referred to as the Cinderella services of the NHS.

Although estimates vary, roughly between 30 – 40% of sickness in the workplace is due to mental health issues.

What Can an Employer do to Help Themselves, their Businesses and their Employees?

Healthy people are happier, more engaged and more productive. Employers across the UK are acting now to support the wellbeing of their people and create mentally healthy businesses.

Mental Health First Aiders

There are varying levels of training for staff.

A half day course is an introductory four hour session to raise awareness of mental health.

It is designed to give:

  • An understanding of what mental health is and how to challenge stigma
  • A basic knowledge of some common mental health issues
  • An introduction to looking after your own mental health and maintaining wellbeing
  • Confidence to support someone in distress or who may be experiencing a mental health issue

A one day mental health awareness and skills course qualifies you as an MHFA Champion.

MHFA Champions have:

  • An understanding of common mental health issues
  • Knowledge and confidence to advocate for mental health awareness
  • Ability to spot signs of mental ill health
  • Skills to support positive wellbeing

A two day course qualifies a person as a Mental Health First Aider.

Mental Health First Aiders have:

  • An in depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing
  • Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues
  • Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress
  • Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
  • Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support – whether that’s self-help resources, through their employer, the NHS, or a mix

If you require further information on Mental Health First Aid courses then give us a call 01527 571611. 

 

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Health & Safety Update 2018

The HSE have published a 2018 reprint of the Health & Safety Law Poster which all employers are required to display. The poster outlines British Laws in terms of Health & Safety and tells workers what they and their employers need to do to ensure their own Health & Safety in the workplace. It also outlines what to do if there are workplace Health & Safety concerns.

HSE Poster 2018 Update

As an employer you have a legal duty under the Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations (HSIER) to display the poster in a prominent position in each workplace or provide each worker with a copy. On this poster you can also add details of any employee safety representatives or health and safety contacts for employees to access at ease and for employer peace of mind.

The HSE have several different resources available for you to purchase including the Health and Safety Law Poster or Health & Safety Pocket Cards. If you need a copy for free they also supply a free Leaflet to download.

 

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World Cup Fever in the Workplace & How to Handle it

Can I support England at work and watch the World cup?

There is nothing in employment law that allows an employee to watch any major sporting event while they are working.

What are the options for an employee, if the employer or the nature of work does not allow for viewing?

  • Take annual leave or holidays
  • File a flexible working request (but this kind of request can only be made once a year, and anyway is not really designed for one-off events like a World Cup or Olympics
  • Does your employer operate TOIL or Banked Hours?

Many employers are uneasy that major sporting events will lead to more absences from work. The failure to turn up for shifts or “the morning after the night before” syndrome comes to mind.

Planning to allow staff to watch an occasion like the World Cup would greatly reduce this risk and give you more certainty about getting work done.

Employers could gain a great amount of goodwill by accommodating requests to allow staff to watch or listen sport in the workplace. Showing flexibility about this can improve and maintain morale which can feed through to better productivity and the Company’s bottom line.

 

How do we go about it?

In all these cases, stress how this can be managed without disrupting the work that needs to be done? Simply making modest changes to working time could mean that it’s still easy to hit any important deadlines or targets.

Tackle the issue early. If you are going to make accommodation for staff in some way, it would be easiest, not to mention fairest, if this is discussed long enough in advance for them to make any changes or announcements when the time comes.

Negotiation and discussion is easiest on all sides when there are several people with the same interest. Do you have a forum or channel to the discuss the matter with staff? Larger employers may have a union or staff council to do this, but it may be as simple as putting up a notice asking for people to stand as a rep for their department or just to give their view individually.

Put forward proposals and see what’s acceptable or if anyone has a better idea? There are several ways to allow staff to watch sport with minimal impact on the business:

  • allowing changes to starting or finishing times or breaks during the working day. Managers could also look favourably on requests for leave and flexitime;
  • encouraging managers to think about work-scheduling to avoid important deadlines clashing with key events where possible;
  • providing a television viewing room for sporting events. This would help to reduce disruption and absenteeism;
  • allowing staff to listen to some events on radios while working. This request should be easy to meet, providing it doesn’t disrupt other staff or public facing parts of the business; or
  • allowing staff with internet access to follow events over online video or audio, in the background, or in their own time at their desks. Whether or not this is allowed, the policy on personal web use should be clarified in advance, as many people trying to access online video simultaneously could put a strain on the organisation’s connectivity if not managed properly.

Remember that the World Cup has 32 teams and staff from other countries may wish to support their own national team as well.

 

What about those staff who are not interested in sport?

Your need to make sure that those who aren’t interested in watching a sporting event don’t get left with a larger share of the work. This should be easy where working time is simply being shifted around a bit.

However, if they cover for their colleagues, the Company should see if they can be recognised or recompensed in any way. This could be a simple thank you to an adjustment in duties to recognise that their efforts allowed others to enjoy the football. Being acknowledged or thanked often means a lot to staff.

It should also ensure that televisions and radios do not disrupt quiet working environments. Also, consider whether doing this presents a concern from a health and safety point of view.

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Conclusion

An employer does not have to allow staff to view sport or have time off for sport while they are at work.

However, making an accommodation can be good for all in terms of goodwill and morale.

Consider whether the Company ought to propose something or wait until staff approach the Company?

If the Company says no, give reasons and allow staff to see if they can resolve the issues to make it work. If the Company says yes, then consider the practicalities and remember that there will always need to be some compromise.

In practice not, all staff will be interested in watching and as long as wherever practical, all views and needs are taken into account and provided service levels are met, it should be seen as a “win-win situation.”

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The Most Common Causes Of Fire In The Workplace

Fire hazards can be found in every workplace, with some industry sectors being more prone to the risks than others. In a high risk industry it is even more important to keep on top of possible hazards and ensure house keeping is maintained.

 

The Most Common Causes Of Fire In The Workplace are:

Fire Blog image 2017

The responsibility of ensuring workplace fires are a minimal risk lies with all employees. However, having your own Fire Marshals on site to manage the risks will reduce the likelihood of them occurring and help maintain the health and safety of employees in your workplace.

Have you appointed a Fire Marshal/Warden? Who should attend a Fire Marshal Course?

Fire Wardens are usually nominated to take on extra fire related responsibilities in the workplace. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that “A sufficient number of competent persons must be available to implement procedures for the safe evacuation or relevant persons from the premises”.

Agility’s half day Fire Marshal/Warden training is aimed at individuals appointed as fire marshals/warden’s within an organisation. The course will enable them to fulfil their duties effectively, while protecting other employees and company assets.

To Find out more about our Fire Marshal Course Click Here

 

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4 Weeks to Becoming Compliant in Health & Safety | Week 1 Appoint a Competent Person

Under Regulation 7 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999:

Every employer shall, appoint one or more competent persons to assist him in undertaking the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements imposed upon him under UK Health & Safety legislation.

When seeking competent assistance employers should look to appoint one or more of their employees, with the necessary means, to provide the Health & Safety assistance required.

If there is no relevant competent worker within the organisation or the level of competence is insufficient to assist the employer in complying with Health & Safety Law, then the employer should enlist an external service or person.

We can support here with our Consultancy Support Services

The Health and Safety Executive define a competent person as someone who has sufficient training, experience and knowledge and other personnel qualities that will allow them to assist you effectively in your health and safety responsibilities. The level of competence required will depend on the complexity of the situation and the particular help you need.

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