Stress Management at Work New Research Published

Management Services, December 1999 | Go to article overview
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Stress Management at Work New Research Published


New research using the Organisational Stress Health Audit (OSHA) to evaluate the effectiveness of stress management programmes has been published by the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM).

The work funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Health Education Board for Scotland (HEBS) was based on OSHA's three stage approach to stress management at work:

* Stage 1 : Identifies the known causes of workplace stress by interviewing a representative sample of employees.

* Stage 2: Investigates in detail the main areas of concern to identify specific risks and devise practical risk reduction interventions.

* Stage 3: Evaluates the impact of the interventions and risk reduction strategies.

This work focused on Stage 3 of the process and involved four organisations - a telecommunications company, a heavy engineering company, an NHS Trust and a financial organisation.

The researchers found that despite positive feedback, the telecommunications and heavy engineering companies had not acted on recommendations from Stages 1 and 2. Some of the reasons for this were thought to be significant organisational changes; a general lack of commitment to tackle workplace stress and a 'macho' style of work culture in which stress was seen as a sign of weakness.

The NHS Trust and financial organisation both concentrated on the main recommendations made in the reports and both relied on internal sources to address them. Specific interventions have been shown to be effective in reducing particular sources of stress, however, the overall reported levels of stress in these organisations have generally not decreased since the audit.

IOM identified a number of limitations in the approach, including a lack of ownership by the organisation, a one-off risk assessment and extensive use of external consultants.

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