Risk Management

Managing Risks of Job Stress

Job stress linked to lost productivity

Absenteeism costs employers millions of dollars each year in lost productivity, with the longest absences from the workplace often attributed to stress. This is according to a recent report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which drew on data from the ABS 2007/08 National Health Surveyand the ABS 2009/10 Multipurpose Household Survey.

It is now important for employers to understand and identify the triggers and precursors of psychological issues in their workforce because such health claims are on the rise.

It is important for managers to recognise the symptoms of stress early on, as the symptoms are often evident long before a workers’ compensation claim is ever made.

While it will never be possible to prevent all stress claims, there are things employers can put in place to minimise and manage, and preferably avoid a stress claim altogether.

This can start right back at the job interview process. Employers need to make sure that prospective employees past experience, personality and qualifications meet the skills of the position, are identified and correctly matched to the proposed roles. Managers also need to really understand their own organisational culture and type of environment in which prospective employees are going to be working in.

As well as employing the right people and putting them into the right roles, it’s also important that managers are trained in people management. Very few are and most still follow the conservative philosophy of “Do as I say not do as I do” or “Know your place...” or “Do you know how lucky you are to have this job?” Equipping managers with the correct tools to identify and deal with behaviours that point to a more serious problem and potentially mental health concerns is essential. They need to know how to empower staff and create a happy yet productive work place.

Below are a few signs and symptoms that may help employers identify stress and/or know depression before a claim is lodged: 

  • increased absenteeism from work with sick leave often exceeded
  • arriving late for work on a regular basis
  • react quickly with anger or frustration often over-emotional with basic issues.
  • sudden inability to meet deadlines or manage normal tasks
  • choose not to attend or withdraw from work and social events
  • negative thought patterns
  • loss of confidence
  • become noticeably tired and fatigued
  • difficulty concentrating and impaired memory.

    A summary of the report can be accessed at the Australian Bureau of Statistics

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