Workplace stress is a tricky thing to manage, and unfortunately it seems to be on the rise for many businesses.
There is no legal entitlement for stress leave from work and NZ employment law doesn’t provide an exact definition of stress leave, so it is a bit of a grey area which compounds the challenge of dealing with it.
The lack of legislation means that if an employee feels they need time-off to recover from work-related stress, the leave options are largely up for negotiation between employer and employee, unless the stress is causing illness, in which case sick leave could be taken.
We really need to look at the Health & Safety At Work Act 2015 for guidance on dealing with workplace stress, as this piece of legislation classifies it as a hazard, and therefore provides the framework to guide us. This means employers have an obligation to monitor, identify and manage workplace stress just as with other hazards.
It also puts some of the onus back on the employees to raise it as an issue, and discuss it with their employer so there is an opportunity to manage the stress.
The most common reasons for workplace stress that we see crop up are:
It’s important employers are aware of these common triggers, and comply with their duty of care to manage the potential of workplace stress as best as possible.
The best control measure is making sure you’ve cultivated an environment of open communication, where employees feel able to raise concerns early so a solution can be found easily. It might be as easy as temporarily reducing hours, altering duties, or providing additional support or resources
Remember, the name of the game is to have all employees healthy and productive.
Promoting a wellness programme can also be a proactive approach to managing workplace stress – research has shown that attention to exercise, fitness, diet and nutrition, sleep and fluid intake can very much increase an individual’s ability to cope with normal pressures. Encourage employees to take sensible precautions to maintain their fitness for work and ability to deal with everyday stresses.
Tags: hr policies