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Workplace Stress Reduction for the Right Reasons


Stress reduction in the workplace for all the right reasons

Companies operating from a genuine desire to improve their staff's health and wellbeing will find it easier to meet the requirements of the amended Health and Safety in Employment Act. That's the approach being taken by Auckland-based QED Services Limited - a consulting business with a team of Registered Organisational Psychologists who work in human resource systems and management.

Possibly the most challenging for employers among amendments made to the Health and Safety in Employment Act earlier this year are those which highlight stress and fatigue as hazards that need to be managed.

The law now requires employers to provide opportunities for staff to participate in the ongoing improvement of health and safety.

QED founder Jean de Bruyne says many business owners concerned over how to fulfil the requirements of the act are finding that many so-called 'solutions' approach the issue from the wrong end of the scale.

"Companies are finding that if managers ask staff about their concerns they may inadvertently build up evidence that could lead to a claim. As a result, they're reluctant to take that path and are left wondering how to fulfil their legal obligations without putting their business at risk."

Ms de Bruyne says QED recommends that businesses approach the issue from an authentic standpoint of integrity, honesty and compassion rather than the narrow and defensive perspective of fear, which is the driver behind many programmes.

"Our guiding principle is that companies need to implement policies because they care for and want to protect the health and wellbeing of their people. This simple concept is the basic building block of every successful relationship."

QED uses The Appreciative Inquiry Model, which focuses on delivering the best outcome rather than the problem itself. It works from the basis of the using the best of what is available - strengths, assets and capabilities - and then looks at how to enhance those practices to produce even better results.

QED takes a three-pronged approach: " Ensures health and safety policies are correct and reflect that the company cares about the health and safety of staff " Trains managerial staff and supervisors to implement and manage the policy " Offers the QED Health Check.

Health Check, a United States-developed programme, works with individual staff members and the company as a whole.

On an individual level, confidential Health Check tests such things as blood pressure and cholesterol, reviews genetic and lifestyle influences and work environment and specific job factors. Results indicate how an individual's 'health and wellbeing age' compares with their actual age.

"It's an ideal tool for staff who want advice in this area and it can be incorporated into company procedure. When a Health Check is carried out on a company it evaluates its overall performance and the effects of workplace environments on staff." Ms de Bruyne says that, as a result, companies fulfil their legal obligations under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, plus reap benefits that could lead to increased productivity and profit.

"Companies develop a deeper understanding of their staff's needs and concerns and they are able to effectively direct resources to best utilise their most valuable asset - their team of people."

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