Reducing work-related stress in social care

Employer advice

Working in social care can be stressful and if not managed properly can result in errors at work, sickness and absence, with the risk of leaving vulnerable people without care. It is estimated that over 11 million days are lost at work a year because of work-related stress. Helping your workforce find ways to better manage their stress is important in building a resilient and happy team. Here are just some ways you can help your team when it comes to managing stress at work.

There are a number of different factors that can cause stress amongst employees in social care. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have noted six key areas which if not properly managed can result in poor health, lower productivity and increased accident and sickness absence rates. The Management Standards are:

  • Demands – for example workloads, unsociable work patterns and the difficult work environments
  • Control – limits to how a person does their work (vs how they are directed to work)
  • Support – a lack of encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by line managers, organisations or even colleagues
  • Relationships – complex relationships both internally and externally, as well as conflicts at work and dealing with unacceptable behaviour
  • Role – lack of understanding for an employee’s role within the organisation and issues around conflicting roles
  • Change – how organisational change is managed and communicated to individuals

As an employer you have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it. The HSE Tackling work-related stress using the Management Standards approach guide helps organisations to assess risk of work-related stress and provides practical guidance on how to manage it. Using the key factors above and creating a plan around them to help reduce stress in your team has had a positive impact on many organisations.  Some of the advice in the guide comes from organisations who have adopted the Management Starndards approach, who have said;

  • Start small and grow: start with smaller areas of the organisation, where you can assess whether your approach to stress busting is appropriate or whether it needs refining, before you roll it out to the rest of the organisation.
  • Be realistic: Put achievable plans in place, which can be completed effectively rather failing miserably.
  • Involve your team – take feedback and suggestion openly to encourage participation to create a plan that works for everyone.
  • Forward planning – have an end goal in sight and think about the steps you need to take to get to that end goal