Continuous improvement in managing work-related stress

The culture of the organisation should recognise that organisational and individual health are key components of business performance. Most organisations will have stress related problems. The key is to find out, in a systematic way, where the problems are, and how and why they are happening.

Review your organisation's policies and procedures

It is often the case that policies and procedures do not adequately reflect the current ways of working, due to the continuous change that organisations experience. The risk assessment should help identify this. Policies that may need reviewed include:

  • bullying
  • harassment
  • sickness absence (maintaining contact when employees are off sick and return to work interviews)
  • equality, where this deals with mental health issues and reasonable adjustments

Make the Management Standards part of everyday activity

The Management Standards are concerned with preventing and managing common health problems and improving the performance of your organisation.

Since the process is continuous, the evaluation and monitoring activities in Step 5 will merge naturally into everyday management.

Whether you use the Management Standards approach or an alternative approach to risk assessment, this should be part of the normal day-to-day activities of your line managers, and integrated into their role as far as possible. Having made the investment it would be a waste to fail to monitor and manage the problems.

Develop your managers

Try to identify and develop the competencies your managers need to manage potential sources of work-related stress. Research from HSE suggests that there is considerable overlap between the management competencies required for preventing and reducing stress at work and general management competencies. It highlighted a number of key competencies for preventing and managing work related stress. The HSE line manager competency indicator tool helps line managers identify their current management style and how they can better reflect the key competencies.

HSENI has produced a Talking Toolkit to help line managers hold initial conversations with employees as one part of an employer’s journey towards preventing work-related stress.

Develop your employees

If you provide information to your employees that allows them to recongise when they are beginning to have problems they will be able to seek the help they need earlier. This means any damage will be minimised and they will not need so much time, if any, off sick.


Review the risk assessment regularly and particularly after significant change, and check whether you need to put in place new or more interventions.

Alternative approaches

If you have alternative risk assessments arrangements in place, ‘Is my risk assessment suitable and sufficient’ will help you to check that you are doing enough.

For more information please contact a mental well-being at work advisor.

About work-related stress

Find out more about:

HSE Management Standards

Find out more about:

HSENI and work-related stress

Find out more about:

Good Practice

Good practice guidance on:


HSENI run a number of different webinars on work-related stress. Details of these including dates and registration can be found on the events page:

Small businesses

The HSENI risk assessment tool, is designed for organisations with fifty or more staff. HSENI has provided additional advice for small businesses.