We have looked a lot at capability issues over the last few weeks. As mentioned previously capability refers to an employee’s skills, ability, aptitude and knowledge in relation to the job that he or she is employed to do. The key feature of lack of capability is that it is not the employee’s fault and is generally outside the employee’s control. With this in mind in this week’s blog we are looking at stress as a cause of lack of capability in the workplace.
The HSC define stress as an adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them. Whilst there is no specific legislation as to how to handle stress in the workplace, as an employer you have a duty of care to take reasonable measures to manage stress under the Health and Safety at Work Act. This is not only for the benefit of your employees but also for the benefit and long term success of your business.
Stress has a significant impact on your bottom line! It is estimated that on average in the UK 10.8 million working days are lost each year as a result of stress, and the cost of sickness absence resulting from work-related mental health problems, of which stress is undoubtedly the primary cause, costs on average £120 per day.
Whilst it is impossible to eliminate all pressures from the workplace you must do everything in your power to reduce the risk of harm and be aware of the early warning signs before it is too late. These can include past history of stress, increases in absence, physical manifestation such as rashes, changes to behaviour e.g. irritability and complaints from peers.
When you suspect an employee is suffering from the early signs of stress act immediately. Consider the amount and type of work the employee undertakes and what changes can be made; provide extra supervision and support and offer counselling. Getting it wrong or not dealing with this issue effectively can result in damaging, in terms of cost and reputation, negligence and personal injury claims.