Identifying and nailing “stress” is crucial to lowering the risks of being an employer.

Stress can cause a huge variety of physical and mental health problems such as heart disease and medically recognised depression. But it also creates a dysfunctional working environment, poor employee performance and high absence; themselves causes of stress for the employer as well as for employees.

The employer is then exposed to a wide range of risks. Accident rates can increase, accusations of discrimination or bullying and harassment can arise, or costly mistakes can be made simply in the operation of your business.

As an employer, you are at risk of substantial awards for personal injury (including damage to mental health), for constructive dismissal, or for discrimination. Ironically there are few more stressful processes for employer or employee than a tribunal or court case.

So a “Stress Audit” can pay dividends (literally). There is no shame. The CEO of Lloyds Banking had eight weeks off in 2011 due to stress. This phenomenon can affect anyone.

Appreciating and identifying the causes and impact of stress enables employers to take appropriate actions, for example better role definition for employees, mediation over conflict, or restructuring of working hours. Defusing stress at an early stage is far easier, safer and cost effective.

Business performance can improve remarkably. One may reasonably assume that those companies that boast “Best Companies to work for” have low stress environments. Companies who gain this accolade outstrip performance of the FTSE100 year after year.

Now is a good time to act; you would not want to find yourself at the wrong end of a discrimination case, such as one involving mental health, that recently cost an employer £4.5M!

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