image�The most common cause of long-term absence is stress�
is a key finding of The 2011 Absence Management Survey,
produced by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and
Development (CIPD) and Simplyhealth.

The report sets out a number of key findings, in a timely fashion
� given that Wednesday is National Stress Awareness Day.

Let�s take a look at those findings.

 

Causes of Absence

Illustration from Absence Management Survey 2011, (c) Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 2011

Stress features high on the list of causes of short-term absence in manual and non-manual workers,
with absences of manual workers also being largely due to musculo-skeletal problems like back pain
as a significant cause. �Many of these could well be exacerbated by stress.

Stress-related absence has increased in all sectors, particularly in the public sector,
and is most pronounced in larger employers.

Causes of Stress

Illustration from Absence Management Survey 2011, (c) Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 2011

Workload is the biggest cause of stress at work � again, particularly in the public sector.
The next largest factor is management style � most significant in manufacturing and
production environments.� After that, non-work factors such as relationships and family
start to feature.

Not surprisingly, organisational change/restructuring is a big factor � the biggest factor for
public sector organisations.� This rings true for me and was the driver for developing my
seminar: �More than just Survival: Thriving in times of change� which I have
delivered many times for local government clients.

Finally, job insecurity is present, but at around 17% is lower than I expected.
It is a more common cause of stress in the public sector this year than last and is
higher than in the private or non-profit sectors.

Dealing with Stress

I am going to quote this next bit: it is a little shocking:

�Three out of five respondents (58%) report that their organisations are
taking steps to identify and reduce stress in the workplace.
Just under a third (29%)�report their organisations are not doing anything to reduce stress,
while 13% report they don�t know.�

13% �don�t know�!� It�s time to find out.� Ignorance is no excuse before the law and
this is a statutory obligation.� As we might expect, the statutory sector is most active
in managing stress, but levels of activity are dropping.

Illustration from Absence Management Survey 2011, (c) Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 2011

I am not wholly convinced that all of the methods of �managing� stress that are
reported, do anything more than measure it.� In order of popularity:

  1. Staff surveys
  2. Training for managers/staff
  3. Flexible working options/improved work�life balance
  4. Risk assessments/stress audits
  5. Written stress policy/guidance
  6. Employee assistance programme
  7. Greater involvement of occupational health specialists
  8. Health and Safety Executive’s stress management standards
  9. Changes in work organisation
  10. Focus groups

My Recommendations

Employers are responsible for their employees� health, safety and welfare.� And,
whilst the law is complex, they and their managers must take action to address
known sources of workplace stress.

This report is a must-read document for directors and business owners to gain
insights into what may be happening.� You know the likely causes, so now find out
what is happening in your business or organisation, and take steps accordingly.

If you want a good primer on dealing with stress,
Brilliant Stress Management is great start,
with further references throughout.

Buy it now

If you want a seminar for your team or your staff, to book, or to
contact me about a possible booking, or to request a detailed synopsis,
please use either:
my contact details here, or
the website contact form here.

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