Employment cases with large pay outs or headline catching behaviour are high profile, sometimes sensational. The media excitedly focus on both the amount of compensation and the inappropriate workplace behaviour. The less high profile cases, or those that don’t make it through the employment tribunal doors should not, however, be under estimated in terms of cost and damage to the individuals and organisation. The following quotes, from interviews with a wide range of employees for the Opt for learning training resource, Recognising and resolving inappropriate workplace behaviour, are a small window into this devastation:
“Never in my whole life have I been so stressed. I don’t really know what the word is. That I’m made to feel like that by these people. How it feels like you’re doing something wrong, why can’t I get a grip on it? In the midst of all of this you have got to do this incredibly important job that is stressful in itself.”
“After he had finished shouting at me I was shaking, felt really terrible, weak, got a doctor’s appointment and was signed off with work related stress for three weeks.”
“This individual is now claiming unfair dismissal on the grounds they were suffering work related stress as a result of the ongoing issues.”
“I became short fused. I had been a mega patient person at work and began taking my frustration out on my loved ones.”
The CIPD Annual absence management survey (2011) reports that 31% of respondents cited relationships at work in their top three causes of work related stress. Other factors cited include: workloads / volume of work (48%); management style (40%) and non-work factors – relationships / family (37%). While the overarching aim of a healthy workplace is central to organisational objectives, it should also be remembered that all employers have a legal duty of care to minimise the risk of stress related illness or injury to employees.
‘How to respect colleagues?’ was an interesting keyword search on www.optforlearning.co.uk this month and perhaps a question senior managers, line managers, supervisors and employees can pose in the context of their own organisation to minimise the risk of stress related illness.