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Workplace environments are one of the biggest contributes to stress, whether it is through burn out or bore out. Larger workloads, increased competition and rapid changes in technology, with the expectations staff can keep up, means many staff members are placed under a considerable amount of stress on a daily basis. With the source of this stress being the workplace, many affected staff members are hesitant to bring it to the attention of their managers. Therefore, stress compounds itself, resulting in serious consequences and sometimes long-term affecting consequences. These long-term consequences can result in a loss of productivity for an organization, money spent on temporary staff to cover long-term sickness, or placing additional workload – and stress – on remaining staff members.

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Staff whose productivity levels have reduced, morals have changed to be a more negative outlook, snappy, irritable or just less interactive with their workplace peers, are all signs of a stressed staff member. Consider the working hours of your staff, their workloads, their interactions with other staff members and the security the staff feel within their job – are they made to feel like they are just filling in gaps for other staff members rather than a significant role?

There is a lot that can be done to help reduce the stress in a workplace, and better battle the stress that is evident. There are several ISO standards that can help reduce the stress in a workplace and manage future stress risks.  A big part of the newer versions of ISO standards is identifying risks using a risk-based thought process. Using this thought process can help identify stress-related activities and environments before your staff suffer.

A Happier Workplace

Designing a motivational, better-managed workplace, with systems and guidelines to reduce stress is a great starting point to reduce workplace stress.

ISO 6385, Ergonomic principles in the design of work systems, identifies core elements to improve, design and modify situations within the workplace to make it safer and more comfortable. Focusing on occupations such as forklift drivers, assembly line workers and healthcare professionals. The standard focuses on elements such as human behavior, work environment (physical, psychological and cultural factors) and the tasks placed upon the workers.

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ISO 10075, Ergonomic principles related to mental workload, offers a guideline to prevent mental overload caused by pressures placed upon staff at work. The idea is to look at the physical conditions of the task, social and organizational factors as well as societal factors that can be associated with their assigned tasks, and the pressures these create. The greater the pressures an individual staff member is placed under the greater the risk they will endure a mental overload, following the provided guidelines will reduce the risk of this happening.

ISO 45001, Occupational health and safety, is the most recent health and safety standard that focuses on identifying the risks in a workplace that can cause stress – both mental and physical – on staff workers, can cause ill health and place staff members in danger of being injured. A workplace that puts its staff members first will identify these risks and put policies and procedures in place to prevent ill health, and stress, as much as possible.

Stress in the workplace is a significant contributor to the overall statistics of those suffering from depression and other stress-related illnesses. Therefore, it is important to make it a priority when planning your workplace systems and workloads.