Healthcare Research 2010: Strategies to deal with employee stress

The economic climate has receded as a reason for employers to implement a stress-management strategy and most still do not have one in place, says Nicola Sullivan

Despite the pressures piled on staff last year, there has not been a significant rise in the proportion of employers actively tackling stress. More than 60% of respondents do not have a stress management strategy, a figure that has remained fairly static over the years.

Among the 39% of respondents that do have a strategy to tackle stress, worries about the economic climate appear to have abated. This year, just 23% cited it as a reason for tackling stress, compared with 88% in 2009.

Also this year, 88% were prompted to establish a strategy because of concern for staff wellbeing, while 56% said it was to improve engagement. A fear of legal claims by staff was the third most important factor and 23% said high absence made tackling stress a priority.

Fear of a Health and Safety Executive improvement order was the motivation for 16% to address stress. Such concerns have remained consistent over the past six years.

Over the last decade, the most popular way of combating stress has remained offering staff access to an employee assistance programme and counselling. In the last few years, flexible working and work-life balance polices have also featured in the top three most popular methods to tackle stress. The research shows an upward trend towards these kinds of benefit: 88% of employers in 2010 rate it as the second most effective way of tackling stress, compared with 77% in 2007 and 75% in 2009.

More employers are also including alternative methods, such as cognitive behavioural therapy and massages, into their programmes.