Managers causing stress in the workplace

Candy Bellinger

There's no doubt that the day-to-day stresses of modern life can get you down. But according to the National Institute for Health Clinical Excellence (Nice), it is managers that are currently "one of the biggest threats to workers' mental health".

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The health watchdog has launched official guidelines to help reduce stress in the workplace and warned that mental health problems, including stress and anxiety, are costing the average size company almost £1,000 a year for each employee.

Nice claims that its new guidance, which includes instructing senior staff to praise more often and to allow staff more control over their day-to-day work, could significantly reduce costs. Professor Cary Cooper, an expert on stress in the workplace from Lancaster University, helped Nice to draw up the guidelines.

He told the Telegraph: "I think central to all of this is your manager. Nobody damages your health more in the workplace, potentially, than your manager. They are the ones who can ensure that you have manageable workloads, realistic deadlines or flexible working. It is also critical that we train our managers to understand that we manage people by praise and reward and not just criticism."

He added that non-monetary rewards for good work such as extra time off or more interesting responsibilities as well as flexible working where appropriate, would help to ensure the mental health of staff.

But Stephen Alambritis, of the Federation of Small Businesses, disagreed saying: "These kind of statements just bring down Nice in the eyes of the general population. If they had shown us the first draft we would have told them that this is not Nice's role, it's a role for businesses."

Let us know what you think... should managers be offering a more flexible, rewarding working environment?