Managers and teams can build a profile of stressful situations affecting them. Stress prevention and if-then planning tools can then be used to minimise the risk of stress.

About

I have developed two tools, which can be used by managers and teams to proactively manage stress risks at work.

The first is called 'Stressful Situations Profiling Tool' and the second is called the Stress Prevention and If-Then Planning Tool.

They are primarily designed to used by managers and teams, proactively, to enable them to prevent and reduce stress in their area. They can also be used, reactively, by individuals, or by a manager working with an individual employee, to help them develop an agreed plan to prevent or reduce stress at work.

The first tool (Stressful Situations Profiling Tool) enables the development of a stressful situations profile, a one-page, prioritised picture of stress issues or situations affecting the wellbeing of the team or individual. The profile, though simple, conveys a lot of useful information and can be used as the basis for action planning to tackle issues identified. It could also be used in coaching or therapy to facilitate discussion of what's causing stress to an individual and exploration of potential solutions. The way the profile is structured makes it easy to be used again to evaluate and review actions to reduce stress.

Importantly, this is a profile of the situation at work (or context) rather than a profile of the team or person. This reduces the likelihood of 'blaming the victim' or stigma. Having a stressful situations profile is always useful because, it provides a simple but useful picture of what's happening and what's having the most negative impact on wellbeing in that area. It does not say 'this area is worse or better' than another area - rather, 'this is what's happening here and what's having the most negative impact on wellbeing'.

The second, linked tool (Stress Prevention and If-Then Planning Tool) is for developing, implementing and reviewing plans to prevent or reduce stress linked to the situations identified in the profile. There are three planning templates: for generating ideas, for the plan itself and for reviewing the plan. There are two stress management approaches which are used when generating ideas. The first approach is to look at what can be done to prevent the situation (or elements of the situation) from occurring in the first place. The second looks at what can be done if or when the situation occurs to cope better, stay calm or get support.

A set of instructions has been written to help managers work with teams to use these tools to manage stress risks at work.

The tools have mainly been used in large organisations, clients of the developer, including recently in the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and BAE Systems. They are ideal though for smaller organisations, in fact any organisation with managers and teams, which wants to prevent or reduce stress at work.

This is not a tech solution, rather a set of tools / templates and process to follow.

Key Benefits

Enables easy-to-understand, prioritised profile (picture) of stress risks at work (e.g. in an area / affect a team).
Can simply develop plans to prevent and reduce stress
Improved compliance with HSE Management Standards (stress risk assessments)
A proactive approach - issues are identified and tackled before people are off work with stress
Reduced likelihood of stress-related illness, absence and presenteeism
Reduces three categories of risk (health, business, legal)
Enables greater transparency about causes of stress
Reduces stigma because focus is on the situation (context) not the person
Managers and teams have greater sense of control (ownership) of stress management in their area
Improves communication across the organisation, contributing to prevention of stress

Applications

All organisations with managers and teams, to help prevent and reduce stress.
Useful for managers working with individuals too.
Highly relevant for Occupational Health
Can be included in training, particularly relevant for management training.
Could easily be developed for online learning.
Could be adapted for use with apps

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