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Managing Stress at Work


University College London (UCL) recognises that its mission to be a world class centre of research and teaching is best achieved through the effective contribution of a motivated and committed workforce.  The people who work at UCL contribute most effectively to its success and achieve job satisfaction, if they are healthy and happy at work.

UCL aims to promote a culture of trust and co-operation, where all members of the UCL community are treated with dignity and respect.

This document aims to establish standards for managers and staff on the prevention of work related stress. It also provides information on sources of support available at UCL to facilitate implementation of these standards and support for those experiencing feelings of stress.
1.2    Work Related Stress
The Health & Safety Executive defines stress as ‘the adverse reaction a person has to excessive pressure or other types of demands placed upon them’. This makes a distinction between ‘pressure’, which can be a positive state if managed correctly, and ‘stress’ which can be detrimental to health.

2 Prevention of Work-related stress

UCL recognises that it has a duty of care towards its staff and a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment.

2.1 Organisational arrangements
UCL aims to ensure, as far as is reasonably possible, that staff work in a safe environment with safe systems of work

2.2 Manager’s responsibility
It is essential that managers have an active role in facilitating and supporting staff to do their job effectively and to contribute to the success of the department and UCL. In order to minimise the risk of work-related stress, managers must:

2.3 Employee Responsibilities
It is essential that staff have an active role in contributing to their own development and the success of the department and UCL by using the resources available to carry out their role effectively. In order to minimise the risk of work-related stress, staff must:

3 Risk Assessment and Risk Management

All staff may experience periods of pressure at work, and short periods of pressure are not necessarily of concern. It is the risk from sustained and / or excessive pressure, without the opportunity to recover, that needs to be assessed and measures put in place to control the risk of adverse effects.

The Health and Safety Executive has identified six key ‘Management Standards’ that represent a set of conditions that reflect high levels of health, well being and organisational performance. The ‘Management Standards’ provide a practical framework that organisations can use to minimise the impact of work-related stress. Details are provided in full in appendix 1, along with UCL’s policies and procedures that support the achievement of each standard. In summary the standards are concerned with:

A checklist in appendix 2 has been developed, using the HSE standards, to provide UCL managers and staff with guidance on the practical steps they can take to identify potential sources of pressure and avoid or address the risk of stress at work.

Further information about the causes and signs of stress can be found in appendix 3.

4 Sources of Support at UCL to assist in the implementation of this Policy
Further advice on UCL’s policies that support the management of stress at work is available from the HR Advisory Services team

The Occupational Health Service can provide advice where there are concerns about the effects of work on health

Safety Services provide advice on safe work environment and risk assessment

Further advice on support for disabled staff can be sought from UCL’s Equal Opportunities Co-ordinator
The Organisational Development (OD) offers opportunities for all staff to develop the skills required to do their jobs effectively and to develop new skills to meet changing demands.

The Organisational Development team also offers academic and professional services staff managers with opportunities to develop their management and leadership capabilities. These have a strong bearing on the effective prevention and management of work related stress.

The Employee Assistance Programme can provide emotional support and practical advice for both work and non-work related issues both before they become a problem and when a problem is identified.

If staff consider that they are suffering from bullying or harassment at work they should phone the confidential harassment help line on 0207 679 1221 through which they will be referred to a Harassment Adviser if appropriate, or they can visit the Harassment web page

Trade Union representatives have a key role to play in the welfare of staff.  They contribute to discussions and subsequent actions on matters concerning all aspects of staff welfare.

5 Implementation and Monitoring

The implementation of this policy will be monitored and a review of its effectiveness carried out annually, using information from the Employee Assistance Programme, Counselling and OH Reports and Safety audits. The Health and Safety Management Team will be responsible for monitoring and review of this policy.


Appendix 1 The HSE ‘Management Standards’ and UCL’s organisational arrangements aimed at supporting the achievement of the standards

Appendix 2    Manager’s Checklist

Appendix 3    Information about Stress

Reviewed and Approved by Angela Graneek

November 2010