February 28, 2020
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Pressure is a natural part of life and can come from many sources, the right pressure can help motivate people to achieve and perform at their best however too much pressure or the wrong type of pressure can cause an adverse reaction. This is generally what is referred to as stress.

Signs of stress in a workplace can include increased arguments, grievances and disputes, decreased performance levels, higher staff turnover, increased absences and changes in individual behaviour.

Recently the HSE have been carrying out some pilot projects trialing their management standards approach to tackling workplace stress with a number of organisations. One of these projects identified an issue with internal communications and to tackle this, they came up with a series of guidance checklists to help people consider how best to communicate with colleagues.

Some simple rules for managing emails that were identified by the project include:

  • Having a set of agreed rules for using email and making sure everyone is aware of them.
  • Only send an email to those who need to see it, don’t default to including everyone. Remember too much information can be as much of a problem as too little, also remember if you copy everyone in you will have to deal with the replies.
  • Be clear if you need a reply and offer simple route for replying.
  • Be careful with the content, recipients and security of the confident e.g. if it is confidential say so in the subject line and only send it to those who need to see it.
  • When emailing groups of external contacts consider whether you should “BCC” the contacts for data protection reasons.
  • Use email groups targeted at relevant people if you regularly need to send emails to large numbers.
  • Be clear if an email is being sent outside of someone’s normal working hours e.g. between people who work different shifts, that there is NO expectation that the recipient should reply outside of their normal working day.
  • Put something in the subject line to establish urgency.
  • Use alternative means of communication e.g. staff notice boards where appropriate and avoid duplication e.g. sending emails telling people to look at the notice board.
  • Cut down on the amount of urgent work you come back to after leave by using “out of office” messages to identify an alternative contact.

Please speak to your normal PIB Risk Management contact or get in touch using Email: [email protected]  if you have any questions about managing stress in your workplace or would like assistance with developing suitable policies and procedures.