What to include in a school stress management policy

Work-related stress can be a real challenge in education given the pace of change in the sector and seemingly ever-growing employee workloads.

Stress can worsen productivity and therefore impact upon teaching standards. Significantly, it can also be infectious and contribute towards lower employee morale and engagement; given the ongoing recruitment and retention challenges being felt across the sector, a stressed and unhappy workforce is exactly what you do not need.

With this in mind, it is advised that you have a stress management policy to prevent, eliminate and reduce work-related stress, and this article will outline the different sections that your policy statement to have.

1) Introduction

The introduction of your policy statement should send a strong message to employees that you take the wellbeing of employees very seriously, and it should recognise that the prevention and effective management of work-related stress is crucial in this regard.

Specific commitments should be outlined, such as the provision of training and support to help managers and employees understand and recognise the nature, causes and management of work-related stress.

2) Stressors

Stress might not be directly work related, and you will never be able to eradicate all stress from the workplace.

You can mention the above in this section, but you should state that this policy statement is your commitment to preventing and addressing work-related stress where you are able to.

It is advised that you state that employees are required to report stress at work to their appropriate manager, and you can use this section to encourage employees to develop a balanced and responsible approach to work and their personal lives, informing management if personal stress is affecting their work.

3) Responsibilities of managers and senior management

Clear guidance should be given to managers with regards to how they can try to create a working environment which avoids or reduces potential stressors.

For example, your policy statement could state that managers should:

  • Ensure work deadlines are reasonable and properly scheduled
  • Create a culture in which bullying and harassment are not be tolerated
  • Recognise that employees need to balance their work and home lives and responsibilities
  • Take seriously employee concerns about inappropriate student behaviour and ensure procedures to support employees are in place.

This section should also outline what senior management will do to prevent, recognise and manage work-related stress, e.g. by considering flexible or part time working where appropriate.

4) Stress absence procedure

Having a stress management policy will help stress-related issues to be addressed as soon as they arise.

However, there may be times where stress impacts so negatively on an employee’s health that they take some time off work.

Your policy statement should outline the stress absence procedures that you (and your employees) should follow, and state your objective to minimise sickness absence, provide support for employees, and plan and implement a structured return to work where this is desirable.

Encourage individuals to seek immediate advice from their GP to facilitate as speedy a return to work as possible. In addition, where the employee consents, state that the Occupational Health Adviser will produce a report with guidance to relevant managers on the necessary adjustments that should be made to the individual’s work.

5) Sickness absence management policy

Finally, you should acknowledge that this policy operates in conjunction with your sickness absence management policy.

How EPM can help

We provide our customers with access to our comprehensive ‘EPM Model Policy on Stress Management’ template document, which can be downloaded and tailored to your specific requirements.

Customers also receive unlimited support from their dedicated HR Adviser who can answer any questions they may have specific to their school, academy or trust.

We can help with phase returns and recommended reasonable adjustments, occupational health referrals and interpreting occupational health reports, and much more. If necessary, we will also attend formal meetings and appeals to provide advice on the risk-based options available.

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