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This week Mel and Darren delve into the different factors that can impact on workers Mental Health:

Aspects of how work is organised:

Remote and isolated work

  • Working in locations that are far from home, family, friends and usual support networks
  • Working alone in non-remote locations without social/human interaction
  • Working in private homes

Workload and work pace

  • Work overload or underload
  • High levels of time pressure
  • Continually subject to deadlines
  • Machine pacing
  • High level of repetitive work

Working hours and schedule

  • Lack of variety of work
  • Shift work
  • Inflexible work schedules
  • Unpredictable hours
  • Long or unsociable hours
  • Fragmented work or work that is not meaningful
  • Continual requirements to complete work at short notice

Job security and precarious work

  • Uncertainty regarding work availability, including work without set hours
  • Possibility of redundancy or temporary loss of work with reduced pay
  • Low-paid or insecure employment, including non-standard employment
  • Working in situations that are not properly covered or protected by labour law or social protection

Social Factors at work:

Interpersonal relationships

  • Poor communication, including poor information sharing
  • Poor relationships between managers or others that workers interact with
  • Interpersonal conflict
  • Harassment, bullying, victimization
  • Lack of social support
  • Unequal power relationships between dominant and non-dominant groups of workers
  • Social or physical isolation

Leadership

  • Lack of clear vision and objectives
  • Management style unsuited to the nature of the work and its demand
  • Failing to listen or only casually listening to complaints and suggestions
  • Withholding information
  • Providing inadequate communication and support
  • Lack of accountability
  • Lack of fairness
  • Inconsistent and poor decision-making practices
  • Abuse or misuse of power

Organizational/workgroup culture

  • Poor communication
  • Low levels of support for problem-solving and personal development
  • Lack of definition of, or agreement on, organisational objectives
  • Inconsistent and untimely application of policies and procedures, unfair decision-making
  • Recognition and reward
  • Imbalance between workers’ effort and formal and informal recognition and reward
  • Lack of appropriate acknowledgement and appreciation of workers’ efforts in a fair and timely manner

Career development

  • Career stagnation and uncertainty, under-promotion or over-promotion, lack of opportunity for skill development

Support

  • Lack of support from supervisors and co-workers
  • Lack of access to support services
  • Lack of information/training to support work performance

Supervision

  • Lack of constructive performance feedback and evaluation processes
  • Lack of encouragement/acknowledgement
  • Lack of communication
  • Lack of shared organisational vision and clear objectives
  • Lack of support and/or resources to facilitate improvements in performance
  • Lack of fairness
  • Misuse of digital surveillance

Civility and respect

  • Lack of trust, honesty, respect, civility and fairness
  • Lack of respect and consideration in interactions among workers, as well as with customers, clients and the public

Work/life balance

  • Work tasks, roles, schedules or expectations that cause workers to continue working in their own time
  • Conflicting demands of work and home
  • Work that impacts the workers’ ability to recover

Violence at work

  • Incidents involving an explicit or implicit challenge to health, safety or well-being at work; violence can be internal, external or client initiated, e.g.:
  • Abuse
  • Threats
  • Assault (physical, verbal or sexual)
  • Gender-based violence

Harassment

Unwanted, offensive, intimidating behaviours (sexual or non-sexual in nature) which relate to one or more specific characteristic of the targeted individual, e.g.

  • Race
  • Gender identity
  • Religion or belief
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability
  • Age

Bullying and victimization

Repeated (more than once) unreasonable behaviours which can present a risk to health, safety and well-being at work; behaviours can be overt or covert, e.g.

  • Social or physical isolation
  • Assigning meaningless or unfavourable tasks
  • Name-calling, insults and intimidation
  • Undermining behaviour
  • Undue public criticism
  • Withholding information or resources critical for one’s job
  • Malicious rumours or gossiping
  • Assigning impossible deadlines

Work environment, equipment and hazardous tasks

Work environment, equipment and hazardous tasks

  • Inadequate equipment availability, suitability, reliability, maintenance or repair
  • Poor workplace conditions such as lack of space, poor lighting and excessive noise
  • Lack of the necessary tools, equipment or other resources to complete work tasks
  • Working in extreme conditions or situations
  • Working in unstable environments such as conflict zones

How can we identify psychological hazards in our workplaces?

There are several ways that the organization can identify psychosocial hazards, this can include (but not limited to):

  • Through reviews of job descriptions
  • Analysing tasks, schedules and locations
  • Consulting with workers, clients and other interested parties
  • Analysing performance evaluations, standardized questionnaires, audits, etc.

Further Resource:

Download a copy of our ISO 45003 Whitepaper here:

We’d love to hear your views and comments about the ISO Show, here’s how:

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  • Leave an honest review on iTunes or Soundcloud. Your ratings and reviews really help, and we read each one.

The Importance of Mental Health:

  • Mental health can influence how we think and feel about ourselves and others as well as we interpret events.
  • It affects our capacity to learn, communicate and to form, sustain and end relationships, influencing our ability to cope with change, transition and life events
  • Good mental health is as important as good physical health to our life and wellbeing
  • Work plays an important part in our health (both physical and mental). People who are in work are, overall, healthier and happier. But sometimes work can have a negative impact on our health
  • At work we should aim to create an environment which fosters good mental health and eliminates or minimises a work environment which can have a negative impact on mental health.

Who’s most at risk?

Identification of who could be harmed or at risk of harm psychologically can be complex, with varying factors, including (but not limited to):

  • Age
  • Personality and psychosocial factors
  • Sleep
  • Medical condition of oneself or other(s) close to the individual
  • The activity – type, frequency and duration
  • Relationships (work and non-work)
  • Financial
  • Lifestyle

There is no single way to manage and reduce stress, what works for one person, may not work for another.

What are the negative outcomes for employees?

  • Poor health and associated conditions
  • Cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, diabetes, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and associated health behaviours
  • Substance abuse, unhealthy eating
  • Reduction in job satisfaction, commitment, and productivity

What are negative outcomes for the organisation?

  • Includes increased costs due to absence from work
  • Turnover
  • Reduced turnover or service quality
  • Increased recruitment and retraining costs
  • Workplace investigations and litigation
  • Damage to the organisation’s reputation

If we get mental health right – what’s the upside?

  • Improved job satisfaction
  • Improved worker engagement
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased innovation
  • Organisational sustainability can be achieved

What is ISO 45003?

ISO 45003 has been published to provide guidance on the management of psychosocial risks and promoting well-being at work. Intended to be used together with ISO 45001 as part of an occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system, the guidelines are suitable for all sectors and types of organisations.

It defines Psychosocial risk as ‘combination of the likelihood of occurrence of exposure to work-related hazard(s) of a psychosocial nature and the severity of injury that can be caused by these hazard(s)’.

ISO 45003 is a guidance standard only. It is intended to complement the requirements in ISO 45001 and guide organisations on how to address OH&S issues relating to psychological health within their general OH&S management system.

What are the aims?

Therefore, it is critically important for the organisation to eliminate hazards and minimise OH&S risks by taking effective preventive and protective measures, which include measures to manage psychosocial risks. Psychosocial hazards are increasingly recognized as major challenges to health, safety, and well-being at work.

What are the psychosocial hazards?

  • Psychosocial hazards relate to how work is organized, social factors at work and aspects of the work environment, equipment, and hazardous tasks.
  • Psychosocial hazards can be present in all organisations and sectors, and from all kinds of work tasks, equipment, and employment arrangements.
  • Psychosocial risk relates to the potential of these types of hazards to cause several types of outcomes on individual health and safety, well-being and on organisational performance and sustainability.
  • It is important that psychosocial risks are managed in a manner consistent with other OH&S risks, through an OH&S management system.

What are the signs of exposure to Psychosocial risk?

  • Changes in behaviour
  • Social isolation or withdrawal, refusing offers of help or neglecting personal well-being needs
  • Increased absence from work or coming to work when ill
  • Lack of engagement
  • Reduced energy
  • High staff turnover
  • Low quality performance or failure to complete tasks/assignments on time (presenteeism)
  • Reduced desire to work with others
  • Conflicts, lack of willingness to co-operate, and bullying
  • Increased frequency of incidents or errors

What are the considerations in risk assessments?

At work, many situations (basic through to complex) are risk assessed, however, many assessments fail in relation to causes of psychological problems.

  • Is the work the issue, or is it perceived that the work is causing or making a situation worse?
  • The actual cause may be different or a combination of factors, inside and outside of work.
  • The HSE defines stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’, and states:

Every employer has a legal duty to assess and protect employees from work-related stress under the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999.

  • Stress is a major cause of sickness absence in the workplace and costs over £5 billion a year in Great Britain.

How does ISO 45003 support ISO 45001?

It is recognised that psychological health, safety and well-being are not always fully addressed within OH&S management. The standard is designed to help organisations better understand and address these aspects of OH&S management so that their system covers all aspects of health and safety, not just those that

Further Resource

Download a copy of our ISO 45003 Whitepaper here:

We’d love to hear your views and comments about the ISO Show, here’s how:

  • Share the ISO Show on Twitter or Linkedin
  • Leave an honest review on iTunes or Soundcloud. Your ratings and reviews really help, and we read each one.

In these times of uncertainty many organisations are facing concerns over business recovery, however there is another aspect which also needs addressing – managing mental health during these difficult times.

As part of Mental Health Awareness week, this weeks’ Podcast covers the management of psychological issues people are facing such as isolation,  worry and anxiety both now and over the coming year ahead.

These new and emerging psychological risks are not only societal issues but also workplace issues, as increasingly the pressures businesses are facing is also having an impact on employees mental health.

Employers have a fundamental legal imperative of managing the physical and psychological risks in the workplace.  They not only have a legal duty but also a moral duty to help employees get through these difficult times.

How can businesses adapt to the mental health issues we are facing?

  • Provide reassurance that as an employer you are doing as much as possible for the  safe return to work i.e. Risk Assessment, providing protective equipment.
  • Engage more closely with employees about their protection and welfare.
  • Proactively communicate on a regular basis, including clear communications on government guidance.
  • Review work demands and how this can be best managed from a mental health aspect i.e. Employee’s overworked/underworked.
  • Review health/psychological status for the safe return to work i.e. age, underlying health issues and mental health conditions.
  • Employers should be starting to plan the smooth transition from current to post pandemic/post lockdown.

However, we can’t just focus on the short term we need to aim to reduce fear and anxieties for the times ahead.  Businesses need to look to the future, and manage peoples expectation for the mid to long term i.e. 6 – 12/18 months’ time. 

Business leaders need to be realistic about a potential recession and start to plan for how work is likely to be delivered over the next 12 months.  It is likely that there will  be extra pressures to ‘make up’ productivity and output.  However, although we need to bolster the economy and return to increased productivity, we also need to accept that client expectations need to be managed proactively, and mental health issues managed carefully to ensure we have a resilient workforces for the future. 

Suffice to say,  it is likely to be a case of continuing to adapt over the coming 12 months, rather than attempt a full return to pre-pandemic standards.

Clare, ends on highlighting in the podcast that we should take this opportunity to embrace a ‘new normal’ as an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned, which could results in employees being more productive and less stressed post-pandemic.

You can contact Clare at Clare.forshaw@parkhs.co.uk or by calling 01296 310450

To find out more about Park Health and Safety, visit their website HERE.

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