Managing work-related stress

Deakin seeks to control the risk of excessive stress. Among the ways excessive stress can be prevented is through:

  • fostering a co-operative and supportive work environment (support)
  • ensuring good communications within the team particularly where there are organisational and procedural changes (change)
  • ensuring adequate preparation for new roles and responsibilities through risk assessment and training (role)
  • enabling staff to report excessive workloads, interpersonal pressures, workplace conflict and symptoms of stress without fear of discrimination (relationships)
  • recognising early signs of stress in workers and taking action to provide appropriate interventions (support)
  • supporting workers in recovering from stress-related illnesses and managing the return to work after any period of sick leave so that excessive stress does not recur (support)
  • developing sound management practice based on equality of treatment (relationships)
  • effective workload allocation and feedback on performance (support)
  • providing information and training to enable staff to develop their skills and maximise their contribution to the success of Deakin (control)
  • providing clear expectations around conduct at work (civility).
  • providing flexible working arrangements (work-life balance)

The Job Stress Risk Identification Checklist can be used to systematically review the risk factors associated with workplace stress. The Individual Stress Risk Factors Checklist uses a more individualised approach if that is more appropriate [link to attached document].

If there are particular issues identified the approaches below can be considered. These approaches are summarised in the Stress Management Action Checklist for Managers.

Preventing workplace stress

Demand

  • Staff are provided with adequate and achievable demands in relation to the agreed hours of work
  • Managers are aware of the workload and avoid continual overload
  • The workload is spread transparently and through consultation
  • Staff are consulted and given lead times where ever possible
  • Staff skills and abilities are matched to the job demands
  • Staff are provided relevant coaching and training
  • Jobs are designed to be within the capabilities of staff
  • Staff concerns about their work environment are addressed.

Control

  • Where possible, staff have control over their pace of work, priorities and approach
  • Staff are encouraged to use their skills and initiative to do their work
  • Where possible, staff are encouraged to develop new skills to help them undertake new and challenging pieces of work
  • Staff are encouraged to develop their skills and inovate
  • Staff have a say over when breaks can be taken
  • Work targets are negotiated
  • Staff are consulted over their work patterns
  • Managers regularly check in with staff

Support

  • Managers are encouraged to support their staff and foster a co-operative and supportive environment
  • Staff are enabled and encouraged to support their colleagues
  • Staff know what support is available and how and when to access it
  • New staff are given a good induction experience
  • Staff know how to access the required resources to do their job
  • Staff members receive regular and constructive feedback
  • Managers set clear goals and are consistent
  • Managers are able to recognise the early signs of excessive stress and take action to provide appropriate interventions
  • Staff are supported while recovering from stress-related illnesses and their return to work after any period of sick leave is managed so that excessive stress does not recur
  • Flexible work arrangements are clear and promoted

Relationships

  • Staff and managers promote positive behaviours at work to avoid conflict and ensure fairness
  • Staff share information relevant to their work
  • Blame free feedback is encouraged and acted upon
  • Team members are given opportunities to work together
  • The University has agreed policies and procedures to prevent or resolve unacceptable behaviour
  • Team engagement is fostered and encouraged but not mandated
  • Staff feel comfortable to report excessive workloads, interpersonal pressures, workplace conflict and symptoms of stress without fear of discrimination

Role

  • Managers ensure that, as far as possible, the different requirements placed upon staff are clear, consistent and compatible
  • Managers provide information to enable staff to understand their role and responsibilities
  • Managers have regular meetings with staff and discuss objectives and timelines
  • Personal preferences and styles are recognised and where practical accommodated
  • Managers discuss and follow-up DeakinAchieve objectives
  • The Position Description is kept up to date and relevant to the work
  • Staff are encouraged and expected to raise concerns about any uncertainties or conflicts they have in their role and responsibilities.

Change

  • Managers provide staff with timely information to enable them to understand the reasons for proposed changes, the process and expected outcomes
  • Managers ensure adequate staff consultation on changes and provide opportunities for staff to influence proposals
  • Staff with concerns or objections are respected and answered
  • Staff are aware of the probable impact of any changes to their jobs. Where possible, staff are given training to support any changes in their jobs
  • Staff are aware of timetables for changes
  • Staff have access to relevant support during changes.

Civility

  • Managers promote and model civil behaviour in the workplace
  • Managers are consistent in their expectations across the team
  • Manage recognise sensitivities and respect individual differences
  • Managers are encouraged and enabled to deal with unacceptable behaviour
  • Managers monitor the workplace and promptly address issues
  • Systems are in place to enable and encourage staff to report unacceptable behaviour
  • Managers promote shared understanding of civility

Work-Life Balance

  • Managers promote and model work-life balance
  • Differences in life demands on staff are recognised and accommodated where practical
  • Managers deal with requests for flexible working arrangements on their merits and treat requests equitably
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Page custodian: Human Resources Division