ACAS have published a new report on Stress and anxiety at work: personal or cultural. The report sets out the findings of a YouGov poll commissioned to find out more about individuals' current experience of mental wellbeing at work. A number of the key findings reflect other recent studies (including the CIPD Health and Wellbeing at Work Survey) with workload cited as the most common cause of stress and/or anxiety and line managers being seen as being the front line in recognising employees suffering from stress. Another important lesson (for employees themselves as much as employers) is the incongruity of some of the statistics - 72% of employees expect line managers to identify stress, but only 43% would talk to their manager about it (and 22% would not talk to anyone at work). 60% blame workload for stress but only 33% think reducing their workload would help. As such, the starting point for employers facing challenges in this area may well be to create an environment where managers and those reporting to them can comfortably talk about these issues and explore solutions to them.
The Institute for Employment study - Employment Support for people with epilepsy - was commissioned by Epilepsy Action to look at what good employment support for people with epilepsy looks like and how employers can be supported to achieve that. People with epilepsy in the UK are more than twice as likely as those without the condition to be unemployed. As with many medical conditions those with epilepsy were found to be reluctant to speak to their employer about their condition for fear of discrimination. Recommendations include an online toolkit to assist employees and employers in their conversations and checklists to help employers assess employees and make reasonable adjustments.
Recent YouGov research, based on responses from 500 HR decision makers, has found that:-
more than half of businesses believe the main reason disabled people don't get jobs is because they lack the right skills or qualifications;
more than one in ten think disabled people should accept lower paid positions; and
nearly a quarter think that disabled people need to adapt better to business culture.
In response, the #workwithme initiative has been launched asking businesses to take a pledge to tackle these issues. The pledge is a five step plan for businesses to take accountability and receive practical advice on how to improve workplace polices, practices and culture for people with disabilities. Key elements include identifying a senior leader to be responsible for disability inclusion, reviewing the support that is provided and implementing a disability plan and recording progress on disability inclusion. Companies already signed up include Virgin Media (who along with disability equality charity Scope launched the initiative), Clares and Philips, but the initiative is relevant to all business irrespective of size. You can find more information and take the pledge here.
An issue being increasingly highlighted as part of wellbeing strategies is the need for a good nights sleep. A recent study published in Psychological Science suggests that if you do not get enough sleep you are more likely to be mean, bully colleagues and falsify receipts. So what to do about it? One possibility being mooted by many is to use flexible working to cater to employee's natural sleep cycles with the possibility of "night owls" starting and finishing work later, and morning larks doing the opposite. Not only does that allow people to work in accordance with their natural circadian rhythm, leading to higher productivity, but it should also, apparently, decrease the likelihood of "unethical" behaviour from employees.
And finally, new guidelines published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence are advising companies to introduce stand up meetings, clearly signpost stairs and organise lunchtime yoga and spinning classes for staff in an effort to fight obesity. The guidelines were also published in an attempt to reduce the amount of time off people take due to stress, depression or anxiety.