Police Scotland Lose 53,428 Working Days To Stress

Stress management

New figures show that the Police Scotland have lost 53,428 days to stress and stress-related conditions in just the last 2 years alone, according to information compiled by Scottish Labour.

In just the months of January to March, the most recent data available, there were more than 10,000 days of absence recorded throughout the police workers in the country. This is an increase of 84 per cent on the same period last year.

Conditions leading to absences were cited as depression, stress and anxiety, according to a Freedom of Information request.

Stress and the associated medical conditions are a very real concern for modern businesses and organisations in the UK, as these statistics show. When staff take time off due to stress, their employers have to ensure business can continue as usual but this may lead to additional costs or put strain on other members of staff who have to take on extra work.

That’s why it is imperative that employers don’t just have a plan of action to help mitigate the effects of sickness absence, but that they put in measures to try to prevent stress in the workplace.

Preventing stress in the workforce

In previous posts on the OHBM blog we’ve already covered ways in which organisations are looking to reduce stress levels. There are some innovative ideas in circulation, including using micropigs and laughter yoga, in addition to the more usual encouragement of exercise, healthy eating and more.

At OHBM we offer several services to help your business overcome the effects of stress amongst the workforce. As experts in our field, we use audit tools that allow us to clearly identify stress issues within your workplace – for both individuals or groups of employees. We are able to refer members of your workforce at short notice to a team of experienced psychologists. Services include stress management, assessment and treatment programmes.

Stress, depression and anxiety are very real conditions which could affect any organisation large or small. Talk to the team at OHBM to find out more about how we can help.

Is Stress A Fact Of Life For Public Sector Employees?

file6461281015948 (1)

Eighty-five per cent of employees in the public and voluntary think stress is a fact of life, according to the “Clockoff survey”. The research took into account the opinion of more than 3,700 people in the public and voluntary sectors including the police and the NHS, NGOs, social housing and more.

The results of the survey show that 93 per cent of people say they are stressed at work a lot of the time, some of the time, or all of the time. Breaking that down, nine per cent say they are stressed all the time they are at work, and almost every one of these respondents said they work over and above their working hours.

Survey respondents claim to work an extra seven additional hours a week on average and less than a quarter of respondents get a main break of 30 minutes or more every day.

The Clockoff survey found that 46 per cent of people strongly agree they have to work beyond their hours to keep up with their workload, 31 per cent agree and just three per cent strongly disagree.

Respondents reported physical and psychological symptoms of stress as headaches, poor sleep, mental health issues and digestive problems.

Workplace stress and overworked employees appear to go hand in hand according to the survey. Stress in the workplace can lead to an array of problems including workplace absence, which causes a negative effect on productivity, workplace morale and more.

To find out more about how your organisation can tackle workplace stress contact OHBM for occupational health and advice today.

Can Micropigs Reduce Stress?


Stress is one of the leading causing of sickness absence within UK businesses, so as an organisation taking steps to reduce the stress of your workforce can help you access a range of benefits. Typically, businesses looking at improving employee well being embark on initiatives such as healthy eating and exercise to prevent stress. Occupational health specialists also recommend quick referral to counselling or other services to help employees already struggling with stress or other mental health issues.

However, some organisations in the UK are employing innovative and unique methods to help individuals reduce stress. We recently reported on a hospital who are using laughter yoga to relax staff, but this week Nottingham Trent University, in preparation for the tough exam season, has announced its interesting pet therapy plans. The university has set up a micro pig room to help students relieve stress by cuddling up to these tiny piggies.

The university isn’t alone in its stress-busting efforts. Exeter University opened a pig room earlier in the month, while other universities like Leicester and Bristol have chosen puppies for their pet therapy. In addition to providing a welcome break from revision to alleviate exam anxiety, the rooms will raise money for charities.

Does it work?

Interaction with a gentle, friendly animal is said to have a number of benefits for health including:

  • lowering blood pressure
  • releasing endorphins which calm you
  • improving cardiovascular health
  • lowering physical pain
  • and potentially even reducing the need for medication

So will we see more organisations and businesses embark on pet therapy to reduce stress in the office? Could the quick stroke of a pig calm your customer service reps when they’re dealing with angry customers, or help execs chill out before a tough presentation? Watch this space.

Mental Health: What Are Your Responsibilities As An Employer?

file6461281015948 (1)

Common mental health issues such as stress can have consequences as diverse as increased absenteeism to feelings of negativity breeding throughout the workplace. This is particularly if colleagues are having to pick up slack from an absent employee.

So what are your responsibilities as an employer when it comes to mental health?

Under the Health and Safety at work Act 1974, your business is required to ensure employees’ health, safety, and welfare in the workplace – as far as is reasonably practical. The HSE expects businesses and organisations to ensure suitable risk assessments take place in order to gauge the stress levels of staff members. Plus, the 1999 Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations mean employees are required to assess health and safety risks in the workplace for third parties.

The role of occupational health

In line with the HSE, an occupational health professional like OHBM will use audit tools allow your business to identify stress issues within your workplace. OHBM’s audit tools are suitable for use for both individuals and groups of employees.

If there is a risk, the health of the employee should be monitored regularly. With OHBM, members of the workforce can be referred at short notice to our experienced psychologists. Here, they can access stress management, assessment and treatment programmes.

To find out more about your obligations as an organisation when it comes to mental health and stress in the workplace, speak to the team at OHBM. We are more than happy to help.

Workplace Stress Can Increase The Amount Of Sickness-Related Absences

Stress in the workplace has the potential to increase employee absences and reduce productivity. And stress is a very common complaint in the UK, with psychological problems including stress behind 1/5th of GP visits.

Symptoms of stress are numerous, but may include:

  • Palpitations
  • Dry Mouth
  • Headaches
  • Strange Aches And Pains
  • Loss Of Appetite

It can also lead to unhealthy behaviours such as drinking, smoking, comfort eating and drug use – which are further damaging to health.

Did you know that good management practices can help reduce work-related stress? At OHBM we can help you implement these practices within your business.

Contact us now for a chat about your organisation and how we can help.

Stress May Cause Weight Gain, Study Suggests

A study of women has shown that stress can slow metabolism and lead to weight gain. Fifty-eight women were surveyed as part of the research by Ohio State University.

The study asked the women about their stress levels on the previous day, before giving them a meal of 930 calories and 60 grams of fat. Researchers then measured how long it took for the women to burn off the calories.

The results showed that women who’d been party to stressful events during the previous day struggled to burn off as many calories as the stress-free women. In fact, stress-free women burned 104 more calories than those who had one or more stressful events occur in the previous 24 hours.

This indicates that stress could add up to increases in weight of around 11 pounds every year.

In addition, stressed women had higher levels of insulin, which also contributes to fat storage.

Stress can cause a whole host of problems, both mental and physical – and this study suggests that there is a connection between stress and weight gain. Being overweight can increase the likelihood of developing a range of illness and disease including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Although it is impossible to avoid everything that may cause stress, especially at work, it is imperative that employers look for ways to tackle stress within the workforce. Stress is a real cause of absenteeism in the workplace, and this can have a real impact on your business’ bottom line.

OHBM can help you to cultivate a healthier, more productive workforce. Talk to the team today.

3 Ways For Employers To Help Staff Deal With Stress

Workplace stress is a common problem and one which has the potential to increase the number of sickness-related absences in your workplace. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says stress is the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other demands placed on them. In some work situations pressure can cause motivation, but excessive pressure has the potential to cause work-related stress.

According to the NHS website, psychological problems, including stress, anxiety and depression, are behind one in five GP visits.

Stress symptoms include:

  • palpitations
  • dry mouth
  • headaches
  • strange aches and pains
  • loss of appetite for food

Employees dealing with stress may be tempted towards unhealthy behaviour such as drinking, smoking or drug use and comfort eating. This has the potential to cause further health problems.

If you’re an employer, tackling stress in the workforce can decrease the number of staff sick days, boost productivity and increase morale. The HSE believes good management practices can help reduce work-related stress and provides management standards approach to help you take practical steps to minimise stress in the workplace. At OHBM we can help you implement these methods within your business.

As an employer, some of the things you can do to reduce employee stress levels include:

Promote activity

Does your workplace have a cycle to work scheme or 5-a-side football team your employees could get involved in? Do you offer reduced rates membership for local gyms? Exercise can help employees feel stronger physically and mentally, and enable them to deal with problems more calmly.

Avoid encouraging unhealthy habits

Does your workplace have a regular Friday night out in the local pub? While socialising is a great way to build relationships, you could encourage non-alcohol related activities instead. Bowling, a visit to a climbing wall, the cinema or the theatre are all enjoyable options that don’t revolve around alcohol.

Consider work-life balance

In the UK we work the longest hours in Europe. Lots of stressed employees could mean you’re expecting to much from them. Could you offer more flexible working hours, or at-home working arrangements to your team?

Talk to the team at OHBM to help you determine the best course of action to reduce stress in your workplace and boost the overall well-being of your team.