The role of line managers in tackling stress
Allowing stress to take hold among a workforce can be costly in terms of the number of working days lost, reduced employee performance and, in the worst cases, legal action being brought against employers for breaching duty-of-care legislation. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's 2007 Absence Management Survey, published in July 2008, stress led to the loss of 13.8 million working days and was the biggest cause of long-term absence among non-manual workers last year.
But just 37% of employers have a strategy in place to deal with stress, according to Employee Benefits/HSA Healthcare research 2008. Arguably, line managers are best placed to identify and deal with the problem and 58% of those with a strategy in place focus on equipping them with the appropriate skills.
As line managers sit between the organisation and the workforce, they can help prevent normal work pressures escalating into something less bearable, as well as spot the warning signals of stress. They can also be instrumental in organising stress audits for their department, pinpointing problems areas.