Referral for Stress Risk Assessments
1. Key features.
Thorough stress risk assessments conducted with your employee by qualified and experienced Occupational Health Specialist Practitioners.
Your employee’s stressors are assessed for their severity (temporary or lasting) using clinically validated guidelines.
Conducted on your behalf when you: don’t have the time, need help to get the process started or lack confidence in your expertise.
Conducted remotely by video conference or physically present at your site.
2. Step by step guide.
Click on a step below to view more detail.
1. When to refer?
If you have more than 5 employees, then you have a legal obligation to:
- Identify and assess health and safety risks at an aggregate; company, site, team or job “type” level.
- Control for any risks where it is reasonably practicable to do so.
Good practice is to include stress risks in your assessment. Typical controls include; introducing, modifying or strengthening organisational values, options for agile working, management training and providing access to support such as mental health first aiders.
After implementing controls for workplace stressors, you may still have employees who are struggling with stress. You might refer them for an individual stress risk assessment:
- If you are aware of, or you suspect that;
- Work related stress is the cause of sickness absence.
- Your employee is struggling due to challenges outside of work.
- Your personality, values or management style might be a cause of some stress.
- When recommended by your Occupational Health provider (e.g., as part of a return to work plan following sickness absence).
- When you become concerned that an otherwise competent employee is struggling to meet certain performance expectations such as; networking, speaking up in meetings, delivering presentations, managing customer or client relationships, adapting to or leading change, etc.
- Your employee is struggling and finds it difficult to communicate issues to you in an objective, scientific and dispassionate way.
2. Why refer to Work Wellness?
- Work Wellness risk assessments are conducted by qualified and experienced Occupational Health Specialist Practitioners who:
- Are more likely to identify workplace stressors:
- Their independence helps overcome employee concerns about confidentiality.
- Their experience of establishing trust and rapport, creates a “safe space” which encourages open and honest disclosure.
- Can help maintain objectivity:
- They have wide experience of “what good looks like” across many organisations so they can maintain a sense of proportion.
- They are well versed in de-personalising sensitive and charged situations, employees are often thankful of the way in which we positively moderate their description of issues.
- Are more likely to identify workplace stressors:
- Employing a credible third party is likely to increase commitment to the process and the likelihood that the resultant assessment is scrutinised and actioned.
We provide you with 2 documents designed to make the referral as straightforward as possible:
Management Referral Form.
For you to complete. The referral form has been designed to elicit information about the employee, job demands, reason for the assessment, the history of any relevant conditions and their impact upon the employee’s normal working patterns and performance.
Employee Consent Form.
For you to ask your employee to sign and date. When obtaining your employee’s consent to the referral you should:
- Confirm / explain the reason for the referral.
- Allow your employee to see the completed Management Referral Form and provide them with a copy.
You then email the two completed documents back to us.
The assessment is normally conducted remotely via video conference but can also be conducted physically present at your site if you prefer.
The appointment will normally be for 60 minutes during which we will.
1. Identify the risks (stressors at work)
We help your employee to identify specific work related stressors by guiding them through 7 sources of workplace stress. This structure has evolved out of:
- Several hundred individual employee mental health assessments.
- Over 20 years of conducting occupational health assessments and individual stress risk assessments.
- Over 20 years of managing talented, neurodiverse teams.
1. Company. “Where I work”
Culture. Objectives. Working environment. Change. Communications
2. Job. “What I do”
Job description. Job content. Workload. Work patterns. Reporting lines. Control. Safety.
3. Resources. “The tools I use”
Processes and systems. Workstation / equipment.
4. Manager / other seniors. “Who I work for”
Duty of Care. Performance Management. Leadership
5. Peers / subordinates. “Who I work with”
Performance. Relationships. Upwards bullying.
6. Career. “My future”
My company’s future. My future.
7. Remote / Homeworking
Isolation. Lack / loss of support. Distractions. Declining health.
We recognise that this structure differs from the “Management Standards” recommended by the HSE but we’ve evolved this structure because it helps to:
- Structure the conversation without spoiling the natural flow of the conversation and the spontaneity of responses.
- Match each stressor to appropriate actions (turning a problem into a solution).
It’s not a problem if your employee describes a stressor which doesn’t naturally fit into the structure, as we describe the stressors anyway, we don’t just tick a series of boxes.
2. Evaluate the significance of stressors
We use our experience of clinical tools for assessing the severity of stressors in a primary care environment to rate the severity of each stressor described by your employee as follows:
The source has had no adverse effect on your mood, sleep, peace of mind, etc.,
The source has had an adverse effect on your mood, sleep, peace of mind, etc., and:
The source has contributed to your anxiety / depression, i.e.,
During this step we will also offer guidance on how your employee might best discuss the assessment with you. Where necessary we might need to explain why the discussion is needed, we might need to provide encouragement and we might need to offer hints and tips for how to approach and input into the discussion.
After the assessment you will receive a report containing an assessment of possible stressors, which ones are temporary or lasting, and recommendations for reducing or mitigating them.
The report structure gives you space to document:
- Additional actions generated during your conversation with your employee.
- The reason why a recommended action has not been agreed and implemented.
- How an action is to be implemented (who, when, how, etc)
There should be no need to transpose parts of our report into another document (unless that’s something you want to do).
The report will more than likely contain sensitive information so we follow General Medical Council guidelines to ensure confidentiality. Further details of these guidelines can be found on the Employer’s Guide to Occupational Health Law and Best Practice page in the section entitled “Processing employee health information”.
The report should be a valuable source of information to help you decide how to manage your employee, their performance and the risks to their health and safety. It might form the basis of an action plan agreed between yourself and your employee. See the Employer’s Guide to Occupational Health Law and Best Practice page for advice on “How to use your OH report”.
After following the action plan, work related stressors should have been controlled to levels which become tolerable for your employee, over a relatively short period of time; days, weeks, maybe up to a month or two. However, if it becomes apparent that the action plan will not achieve this then more fundamental adjustments might be required including a change to the employee’s job or a referral to appropriate specialists to diagnose and prescribe treatment to help your employee cope.
3. Step by step average timeline.
Day -3 Identify referral reason
Step 1: You decide to refer.
Day 0 Gather information
Step 2: You make the referral.
Allow 3 working days to make the referral, it is normally a straightforward task to:
- Collate and capture the information necessary to complete the Referral Form.
- Obtain your employee's consent to the referral.
Day 7 Arrange appointment
Step 3: Work Wellness conduct the assessment.
- Within 2 working days of referral we will be in contact to arrange an appointment. We usually offer 3 appointment slots over the following 10 working days. Your employee is almost always able to accept one of them.
- We are very flexible, it is not unusual for us to arrange the appointment in advance of the referral. We just need the Forms at least 1 working day prior to the appointment to give us time to adequately prepare.
Day 10 Write report
Step 4: Work Wellness report back to you.
- We aim to release the report within 3 working days of the assessment.
- If your employee requests advance sight of the report then we allow them 2 working days to provide us with consent to release the report to you. If they have not consented within 2 working days we issue a reminder and allow a further working day. If we have still not received consent then we escalate to you for resolution.
- If your employee requests changes to the report then we aim to release the report to you within a further 3 working days. Its is usually sooner but there are instances when changes are only agreed after some discussion.
4. Why invest.
Protect. The cost of getting it wrong:
A 2018 survey of 100 UK organisations, 15,500 managers and 44,000 employees found1:
- 48% had experienced poor mental health such as; stress, low mood and anxiety, while working at their current organisation but 52% chose not to tell their manager.
- 55% felt their manager would not be able to spot if they were having problems with their mental health.
A 2017 survey of 576 UK media industry employees found2:
- 60% say work has had a negative impact on their wellbeing over the past 12 months.
- 46% say they wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to their line manager if work was having a negative impact on their mental health.
A 2013 survey of 2,060 employees in England and Wales found3:
- 19% had taken sickness absence due to work related stress but that …
- 90% did not disclose stress as the reason.
Work Wellness can help you identify a significant proportion of your employees likely to be experiencing work related stress who have not told you about it and you have been unable to identify it.