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Employers Are Taking Action To Combat Stress

MEDIA RELEASE

Immediate release – Wednesday 26th January 2005

Survey Finds Postive Signs That Employers Are Taking Action To Combat Stress

"More people are aware of how to manage their stress."
- Health and Safety Advisor, Private Company

"The implementation of these initiatives has meant that staff know that there are people to talk to. The development of a wellness policy will help develop a mentally healthy work culture even further."
- Human Resource Manager, Government Dept

As the return to work continues this week, a new survey of 100 employers carried by Working Well (the workplace and mental health division of the Mental Health Foundation) shows that employers have been taking action to reduce stress in the workplace.

The key benefits of implementing mentally healthy workplace initiatives are cited as creating a more supportive and relaxed culture, lower absenteeism and turnover, more openness about staff stress, increased use of employee assistance programmes (E.A.P.), and increased awareness of the signs and symptoms of stress by staff and managers.

The survey found:

- 74% of people felt the mental health of their organisation was healthy or very healthy for them. 23% rated their organisation as okay, and 3% said it was unhealthy or very unhealthy for their mental health.

- 64% of those surveyed rated their organisations as doing well or very well at managing stress and fatigue. 23% said it was managed satisfactorily, 12% poorly and 1% very poorly.

- 47% of workplaces surveyed have introduced one or more initiatives since the amendment to the OSH legislation in May 2004, while 47% have not.

- 43% of workplaces surveyed have some form of stress management training for staff.

Other initiatives employers have put into place to build mentally healthy workplaces, besides stress management training, include:
- access to free counselling or employee assistance programme services
- free or subsidised gym memberships
- reporting and monitoring systems for stress and fatigue
- flexible hours policies
- emphasis on team building
- more open and regular communications with staff
- active health and safety committees.

Leanne Luxford, Working Well Manager said: “Most employers value the principles of a mentally healthy workplace and are actively working towards improving the quality of their employees working lives.”

The ‘Mental Health at Work’ survey involved 50 employers who are on the Working Well database and 50 randomly selected employers from across the country. Large, medium and small employers were questioned from a range of sectors. Those interviewed were primarily in management, human resources, health and safety and administrative roles.

As part of Working Well’s programme for employers in 2005, workshops and training will be held in Wellington on 25th February, Christchurch on the 10th and 11th March, Dunedin on the 7th and 8th of April, and in Auckland on the 21st and 22nd of April. More information about Working Well is available on www.workingwell.co.nz.

*** Ends ***

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