'Workplace stress in the housing sector is a major issue that we must tackle.'
More must be done to deal with workplace stress in an increasingly challenging and complex housing sector, says Matt Parkyn, as he embarks on a major piece of research to understand and tackle the issue.
Stress at work and the impact it is having on workers and the economy are regular topics of discussion in the news. In 2016/17 12.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety and 526,000 workers were suffering from work-related mental health issues. With 9.7 million workers saying that in 2016/17 their productivity is damaged by stress and anxiety caused by the workplace, I think most people would agree that workplace stress is an important issue that could affect us all.
The social housing sector is an increasingly challenging and complex sector to work in as we support some of the most vulnerable people in society at a time of ongoing funding cuts. Continuing to deliver services to some of the most vulnerable people in society with diminishing funding places pressure on staff at all levels within the sector. Frontline colleagues face difficult situations on a daily basis while senior managers have to make difficult decisions that have wide reaching impacts on internal and external stakeholder groups
Across the country workloads are reported to be growing and this is a particular issue in the social housing sector as it seeks to respond to the UK’s housing crisis and unsettled political and economic landscape. More than ever before, the success of social housing sector depends upon the commitment and dedication of the people who work in the sector. Therefore, reducing stress at work and improving the wellbeing of our colleagues has never been more important for the continued delivery of core housing services.
What needs to be done?
The sources of workplace stress are generally acknowledged as resulting from the organisation and how it operates and every employer has a legal duty to reduce the impact of psychological hazards at work. As such workplace stress is an issue for the whole organisation to address. We all have our part to play in looking after each other and ourselves – that’s a basic moral and humanitarian principle.
Senior management and board members have a duty to ensure the health, safety and well-being of all employees. There is also increased emphasis on the part that middle/line managers have to play in managing employee stress. However, these managers often have fairly hefty workloads themselves, and lack the time and/or training to tackle workplace stress experienced by employees. A recent report from the CIPD has highlighted that over-worked managers and under-supported staff are having a significant impact on workplace health.
So what's the answer?
As a health and safety consultant working in the social housing sector, I recognise that more needs to be done to tackle workplace stress. So I am conducting a research project on the topic of workplace stress in social housing with University of Chester. For this research, I am interested in hearing the stories of middle managers in social housing and how they are managing employee stress. I strongly believe that knowing more about the realities of being a middle manager in social housing will help us reduce the impact of stress at work in this vital sector.
If you are a middle manager in the social housing sector and would like to be interviewed as part of my research, I’d be delighted to hear from you.
Matt Parkyn is director and senior consultant at Caldiston Ltd - a health a safety consultancy specialising in the social housing sector.
- Are you a middle manager in social housing who would like to be involved in Matt's research? Contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information about how to be involved in the project. All contact and interviews will be treated in the strictest confidence