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Management of Stress at Work

Introduction

The University of Dundee is committed to providing a healthy and safe working environment for all staff.  There are considerable pressures in everyday University life.  Many of these pressures assist us raise levels of performance to the benefit of our colleagues, our students and the wider community.  Improved levels of performance also contribute to our sense of personal satisfaction and self esteem.  However, the University recognises that excessive levels of work related stress are potential causes of ill health.  The University has a duty in law to ensure that the health of its employees is not adversely affected by their work.  This policy and associated guidance set out what the University does to manage work-related stress.

Policy Statement

The University of Dundee will strive to protect the health, safety and welfare of its employees and recognises that excessive levels of work related stress can lead to ill health.  This is a health and safety issue which must be identified, reduced and prevented as far as possible.  The University will support staff suffering from stress in the same way as any other illness and will seek to control the causes of stress in the workplace.  In asserting its commitment to address the harmful effects of work related stress, the University recognises that stress can also be present in the lives of staff outside of work but the University understands that they may combine with stresses at work to produce a greater threat to the individual’s health.  The University is also committed to providing help and support where appropriate in relation to other non-work related causes of stress.  The University recognises that incidents of stress will be less prevalent in an organisation which promotes:

Organisation

Line managers have the primary responsibility of implementing measures to identify, assess and control stress at work.  They are responsible for ensuring good communication on stress issues within their unit and for fostering a supportive environment in which stress issues can be identified, discussed and addressed. They are responsible for ensuring that signs of stress in individuals are identified and addressed. 

Individual members of staff also have a duty to take reasonable care of their own health and that of others that might be affected by their actions.  Staff are encouraged to discuss their stress-related issues with their Head of Unit or Line Manager.  Individual staff are also encouraged to look out for signs of stress in colleagues and to support them in addressing the problem.

There are also many other sources of support available in the University which staff can avail themselves of, such as, the Wellbeing Contacts, Human Resources, Occupational Health and the Counselling Service. Trades Union representatives and safety representatives may also be a source of support for staff. 

Arrangements

Heads of Unit must include stress in the risk assessment of their Unit activities. 

Heads of Unit should enquire periodically about stress, and should take steps to investigate any known or suspected cases of stress in their Unit.  Heads of Unit are encouraged to use the support services listed above and to recommend them to staff.  They should reassure staff that any stress problems will be treated confidentially by these services, while attempting to resolve the matter.

Heads of Unit need to review workloads and targets for their staff to ensure that these are realistic and achievable without regular dependence on excessive hours being worked.  They should act promptly to manage reasonable workloads when absences place increased demands on remaining staff. 

Staff should report stress to their line manager, or alternatively, to one of the support services listed above.

Unit Safety Committees should discuss whether there are stressors in the Unit and how these could be managed.

Reporting

All work related absence will be reported to the Safety Sub-Committee, which will include statistics for stress-related problems.  These reports will also be forwarded to the Human Resources Committee.  In addition, Occupational Health and the Counselling Service will record the number of staff contacting them directly with work related problems and will provide anonymised statistics to the Safety Sub Committee and the Human Resources Committee.

In addition, the University will instigate periodic surveys of staff to estimate the incidence of work-related stress.

Training and Support

Staff Development will continue to offer courses to help individuals manage stress in their lives and for managers to help them tackle stress in the workplace.  Safety Services will provide training to Heads of Unit and line managers on stress risk assessment.

Human Resources will continue to provide advice to Heads of Units and staff on how to manage stress in accordance with this policy and other supporting policies such as the Sickness Absence Policy, Dignity at Work and Study Policy, and the Family Friendly Policy.

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