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Managing Pressure and Avoiding stress

Contents


What's the difference between pressure and Stress?

Stress is a word now commonly used to describe both the events that are a source of pressure and the subjective feelings associated with external events and stimuli.  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.

Sources of Pressure

Not all pressure is negative, for example "nerves" can aid an actor or athlete to give a good performance. So if you do not enjoy the pressure of being in the public eye and performing or you're not too fit, you have probably chosen a different career path. On the other hand, insufficient pressure can lead to under-stimulation and boredom.  Everyone has different thresholds for coping with different types of pressure.

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It is natural to feel under pressure at times, because of the demands life places on us. Usually the pressure is transient and can result from positive and negative life and job events. If the pressure is unrelenting and there is no time for recovery, negative health effects can result. For more information on sources of pressure and signs of stress click here

UCL has a duty of care towards its staff and a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment, if the employee feels that the stress is related to work pressures you must take steps to identify and make reasonable adjustments to manage the pressures. UCL's managing Stress at Work Policy sets the standards for preventing and managing stress at UCL.

UCL's Managing Stress at Work Policy

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's policy for managing stress at work policy sets out the 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.

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. In summary the standards are concerned with:

Role: Whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that the person does not have conflicting roles

Demands: e.g. workload, work patterns, and the work environment

Control: How much say a person has in the way they do their work

Support: The encouragement, support and resources provided by the organisation, line managers and colleagues

Relationships: Promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour

Change: How organisational change is managed and communicated

The Employees role in preventing stress and managing pressure

It is essential that all employees 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:

What should you do if you are concerned that you are experiencing stress?

  1. Don't wait until things get too difficult to cope with; seek advice and resolutions at an early stage.

  2. Check the Sources of Support available at UCL . It may be that you just need to talk your problems through with someone, or need practical advice on personal issues such as finance or relationships

  3. Talk to your manager.

Useful Links:
Working together to Reduce stress at work
Sources of Support at UCL

The Managers' role in preventing stress and managing pressure

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:

What should managers do when an employee reports feelings of stress?

  1. Ensure that you are familiar with UCL's policy for managing stress at work policy
  2. Check out the information on Tools for Managers to Assist With Managing Stress and Practical steps managers can take to reduce the risk of work related stress
  3. Arrange a meeting so you can  take the time to listen to the employee and note the issues of concern and undertake a  risk assessment using the checklist in UCL's Managing Stress at Work policy
  4. Seek advice from your HR Consultant
  5. Ask the employee what changes to the job they think will help, so that you can consider these
  6. Agree any short-term changes that can be  reasonably implemented and arrange a follow up meeting with the employee to monitor progress
  7. Ensure that the employee is aware of the sources of support available at UCL
  8. Make a referral for Occupational Health advice

Tools for Managers to Assist With Managing Stress

Manager behaviours
A framework of manager behaviours associated with the effective prevention and management of stress at work has been developed through research sponsored by the Health and Safety Executive and Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD). The framework provides examples of both positive and negative manager behaviours and is a useful tool to see how your management style and behaviours impact on your team. Learn more and try out the tool.

 Risk Assessment
UCL has a duty of care towards its staff and a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment.

Simple Checklist
In order to assist managers in ensuring a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is undertaken a checklist (Word doc) is available. The checklist aims to support managers in the implementation of UCL's employment policies. The checklist can be used to

 Follow up Assessment
Where further assessment is required the occupational health service can advise managers on suitable tools. Email ohs_admin@ucl.ac.uk with subject line 'Sources of pressure risk assessment' and your contact details.

Practical steps managers can take to reduce the risk of work related stress
Demands
Examples of adjustments that you can consider in reducing the pressure associated with demands:

To check the UCL Policies that support this standard click here .

Control
Examples of adjustments that you can consider in reducing the pressure associated with Control:

To check the UCL Policies that support this standard click here

Support
Examples of adjustments that you can consider in reducing the pressure associated with support:

To check the UCL Policies that support this standard click here

Relationships
Examples of adjustments that you can consider in reducing the pressure associated with Relationships:

To check the UCL Policies that support this standard click here 

Role
Examples of adjustments that you can consider in reducing the pressure associated with Role:

To check the UCL Policies that support this standard click here

Change

To check the UCL Policies that support this standard click here

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