Expert Advice: Stress is everywhere. Are you prepared to deal with it?

Health & safety expert Nicola Walsh asks whether you have included stress in your salon’s Health & Safety Statement?

Nicola WalshAll businesses should accept that the workplace has the potential to cause stress from time to time. Employees who feel they are at risk from stress at work should inform the owner straight away.

It is now commonplace for businesses to have a Stress Policy within their Safety Statement. Here is a little more information on stress in the workplace and what elements you would consider and put into a Stress Policy.

Organisational stress is defined as a mismatch between the demands made of someone and their perceived ability to cope with those demands.

Organisational stress is now recognised in modern industrial life and should not be seen as a manifestation of personal weakness.

What can cause stress in work? 

Changes within the organisation, dealing with customers, uncomfortable workstations, demanding work, boring work, excess hours, lack of training, lack of clear understanding of job, poor communication etc. can all be causes of stress in the workplace. 

These stresses can be symptomatic by abnormal behaviour, being emotional, aggressive, irritated, smoking, drinking, isolating themselves, being withdrawn, lack of concentration, having accidents, sleepless nights etc. These stresses can cause more absenteeism, sickness, low motivation, reduced productivity and efficiency and bullying, all of which cost your business money and cost people their health!

So, what controls can you put in place? 

You can provide training to staff and management or engage external professionals to provide the training so that everyone is fully aware of the potential causes of stress and what the early warning signs are.

You can create a transparent environment where all staff can be open to approach someone if they are experiencing stress.

Organisational stress is now recognised in modern industrial life and should not be seen as a manifestation of personal weakness.
Strategies to reduce stress

There are several strategies you can put in place to deal with and reduce stress. These include  providing better employee support, enabling employees to have more control over their work, improving communication and consultation, and involving staff in feedback. Make positive changes to the working conditions, provide social support, and help develop your team members' careers or interest areas of work.

You can also improve the working environment including issues such as dignity, considering work-life difficulties and adjust to improve this, creating an environment that is safe and blame-free where staff can openly discuss how they feel about stress and where the organisation regularly addresses it.

Dealing with a complaint about stress

When someone puts in a complaint or expresses concerns, ensure that you deal with it by listening with empathy, that you provide confidentiality and ensure appropriate measures are taken to ensure their health and wellbeing are safe.
You should also maintain records of all complaints, incidents and follow-up actions taken and keep these records.

Nicola Walsh is a Beauty Business Owner, Health & Safety Consultant, Expert Witness, and founder of Ensure Health and Safety Ltd. She is also an All-Ireland Business All-Star.