Work related stress

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Welcome to the HSE Stress eBulletin

Welcome to the latest edition of the HSE Stress eBulletin. In this editions we talk about recent developments from HSE and ask for your input in where we can do more to provide information of guidance that will help people tackle work-related stress.

Upcoming HSE training courses

Understanding and Preventing Work-Related Stress

18 Feb, £515

It is not an employer's or a line manager's job to diagnose or treat stress. However, employers do have a legal duty to assess the risk of work-related stress and put steps in place to tackle those risks. Only half of all organisations actually do something. Those that do find they have improved employee commitment, higher productivity, fewer sickness absence days, lower accident rates and increased morale.

As a special bonus we're offering a 'Buy One Get One Free' on the places for this course, for this date only! If you're interested in attending please contact the HSE training team, to take advantage of the offer. Read more...



Worker Fatigue Risk Management

20 Feb, £515

This training course is aimed across industry, at people who have responsibility for implementing a company's Safety Management System, SHE Managers, Occupational Health and HR Managers. This course is suitable for those responsible for operating a 24/7 shift system as well as those managing more regular working patterns. Read more...

HSE stress products

Talking Toolkits

We are always working to ensure the advice guidance and tools we provide on our website are meeting the needs of its users and providing sufficient information to help duty-holders understand their legal duties relating to work-related stress and mental ill health.

Over the last couple of years we have been developing our "Talking Toolkit". This provides a framework for employers, primarily in smaller organisations, to begin to have conversations about how staff are feeling about their roles. The Toolkit is based on the Management Standards factors. We currently have three versions available and are hoping to develop others working in partnership with the relevant sectors.

We have some received suggestions and questions about the Toolkits, one user asked whether it could be changed to allow a manager to complete it online, which we were able to accommodate. We are looking at developing the formats it's offered in to make it more user-friendly.

We've also has some anecdotal feedback on its use. Although it was developed as a tool for team discussions in smaller organisations, it's much more flexible - it can be used in performance reviews, as a 'team risk assessment' in larger organisations, in return to work interviews with people coming back after experiencing stress or a mental health issue and in developing an individual risk assessment to identify 'reasonable adjustments' to get people back into work.

If you've used the Toolkit in a creative way, drop us a line and let us know. If you think there is something we need to provide advice or guidance on, again get in touch, using the links below!

Review of investigation criteria for work-related stress

Towards the end of last year, HSE undertook a review of its criteria for undertaking investigation activity on work-related stress. The resultant requirements are largely the same but we have tried to clarify the minimum requirements we need.

As part of the subsequent published guidance we have endeavoured to guide people towards the correct route for concerns on topics that are not primarily for HSE.

This review has been supported by developing a resource within HSE to ensure, so far as possible, a consistent approach to cases which will provide an appropriate approach across cases.

The reviewed criteria can be found here

Tips on managing internal communications

Pilot partner's approach to better communications

HSE's Stress Policy Team has been undertaking some pilot work, trialling the Management Standards approach with various organisations. An outcome of this work is the Talking Toolkit(s) and particularly the Education sector one, which was first of a series of sector focussed products.

We've also been working with partner to develop interventions that can be tested in their organisations and one of the schools we've been working with, identified a significant issue with internal communications. In seeking to tackle this, they came up with a series of guidance checklists to help people consider how best to communicate with colleagues and how to keep it proportionate and relevant.

The checklists - when you see them written down - are common sense; but so often overlooked or ignored. You can find the list for managing emails below and we'll provide others over the next few bulletins.


  • Have an email-users agreement, agreed with employees, that establishes rules for using email – make everyone aware of it.
  • Don’t default to copying in everyone - remember when you send an email YOU have to deal with all the replies!
  • Before sending consider - does everyone on the list need to see it? Too much information is as troublesome as too little.
  • Be careful of the content, the recipients and the ‘security’ of the content eg if its confidential say so in the title box and make sure it’s copied only to those that need to see it!
  • If you are emailing a large group of external contacts, consider whether you should ‘BCC’ the names eg for data protection reasons
  • If a response is required – tell people! Offer simpler routes for reply such as voting options – it will save you time chasing them.
  • Put something in the subject box to establish urgency eg colour coding or “for action” / “for information only” / “for reply by …….”, prior to the subject
  • Make better use of the staff notice board to cut down on email traffic – don’t then send an email saying, “see the notice board!”
  • Create email groups to focus and target relevant staff, this will reduce the volume of unnecessary email traffic and make it quicker to send them.
  • Make it clear that if an email is sent outside working hours eg if the sender works different shifts, there is NO expectation that recipient(s) should reply outside of their normal working day. This helps to promote a healthy work life balance.
  • Use “out of office” messages to identify a contact when on leave or out of the office – this allows urgent matters to be dealt with and can limit the number of “crises” you come back to!

If you've got any useful tips, send them in and we'll circulate them to reader's or contact us and we can consider making it into a case study - we're always happy to find out what's working effectively out there

Contact us

Please keep the good ideas coming and let us know if there is anything you'd like us to cover in these bulletins; you can gives us feedback using the email route or you could join our e:community and share your ideas, innovations or questions with the group.





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