June 3, 2021
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Stress is a major cause of sickness absence in the workplace and is estimated to cost over £5 billion a year in Great Britain. It affects individuals, their families and colleagues by impacting on their health but it also impacts on employers with costs relating to sickness absence, replacement staff, lost production and increased accidents.

To help combat stress and improve mental health the HSE launched a “Talking Toolkit” to help line managers have conversations with their staff on six key topics covering demand, control, support, relationships, role and change. The toolkit requires employers to make sure time is available for line managers and workers to have open and honest conversations.

In November 2020 we reported how in association with CONIAC, the Construction Industry Advisory Committee, the HSE were working on a “Talking Toolkit” tailored to the particular issues associated with the construction industry. That “Talking Toolkit” has now been published and can be downloaded from the HSE’s website.

The HSE state that the toolkit is primarily aimed at small and medium sized businesses with a regular workforce (employed and contracted) who wish to be proactive in addressing this issue. However, it is a flexible tool that can be used across the whole industry.

In addition further sector specific “Talking Toolkits” have also been launched for the Education, NHS and social care sectors. The full range of toolkits can be found on the HSE’s website

The “Talking Toolkits” follow the HSE’s Management Standards approach and look at six key areas of work that, if not properly managed, are associated with poor health, lower productivity and increased accident and sickness absence rates. These are:
• Demands including issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment
• Control i.e. how much say the person has in the way they do their work
• Support including the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues
• Relationships including promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour
• Role e.g. whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles
• Change i.e. how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation

If you have any questions about work related stress please get in touch with our HR Consultant Rhiannon Hammond Jones, on 07522 229718 or email [email protected]