LettersOn 11 Nov 2003 in Personnel Today Thisweek’s lettersJobdesign and avoiding the risk are key to fighting stressItotally disagree with Professor Scase’s view (Opinion, 21 October), where hewrites off many staff complaints of working in a culture of fear andconsequently falling ill with stress as ‘nonsense’. Hewas referring to staff having to work under new management sometimes brought into improve an under-performing company. What Scase doesn’t point out, is thestress that staff in such situations have to go through when they are not evengiven the basic tools to carry out their new roles – such as training.Youreditorial aptly points out that HR professionals can do a lot aboutwork-related stress – for example, in addressing the design, organisation andmanagement of work. The Personnel Today and Health & Safety Executive’ssurvey is an important contribution in this field, and its findings highlightthe significant impact of stress on business. Even if 51 per cent of employersbelieve that only half of the sickness absence attributed to stress is genuine,more must recognise the impact of stress on their business. HeatherFalconer’s article in the same issue (Features, 21 October) rightly points outthat since the Court of Appeal ruling in Sutherland v Hatton, staff claimingpsychological harm from stress at work have had difficulty in establishing thatthe employer could have reasonably foreseen the harm. Shealso points out the crucial role that work-related stress (WRS) riskassessments play in prevention. It is encouraging to see that 69 per cent ofrespondents to your survey state that they already have work-related stressrisk assessments in place. These will be even more important in legal claimssoon, as the exclusion of civil liability clause (regulation 22) is beingremoved from the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. This willmean that civil claims will not be limited to actions in negligence orcontract, as actions for breach of statutory duty will also be allowed.Asimportant as the legal implications are, the greatest cost of not managingstress at work is in terms of human suffering. I have witnessed this in myclinical practice, and I have also witnessed managers who have never believedin stress, who – in my experience – fall the hardest when they finally succumbto pressure. Their lack of insight makes it difficult for them to relate totheir physical symptoms, performance problems and inability to cope, whichdelays their recovery. Itcould be argued that organisations should employ senior executives who dobelieve in stress, as they would not be as vulnerable to the conditionthemselves.DrJacques TaminMedical director and chief occupational physician, Interact HealthManagementSickto death of all the staff excusesFollowingyour sicknote survey (28 October), I am writing in with tales from my owncompany. One person takes sick leave every half term holiday (the firm does notseem to have worked this one out yet). Another person used to take sick leavebecause of ‘piles’. His wife would phone in on his behalf saying “it’s thedreaded grapes of wrath again”. Somebody else has phoned in sick with ahernia (in the neck!).DetailssuppliedMovingthe notes around is dud ideaIread with horror the sicknote article (28 October) and have been prompted towrite. Ofcourse GPs wish to get rid of signing sick certificates because it puts them indirect conflict with their patients. However, to dump this onto occupationalhealth (OH) professionals will only add to the burden for companies.Already,employees often disagree with opinions of OH and in this situation GPs will, Isuspect, be ‘recruited’ to support the patient’s viewpoint. They will end up inconflict with OH. And OH may have towrite to GPs for many more reports (costing on average more than £60, purely forinformation on medical diagnoses and treatment).Ifa patient disagrees with OH, how will this be handled? I can imagine thepatient will go through every appeal process in the organisation, and,ultimately, to an industrial tribunal. Theonly sensible way forward is to have sick certification from a totallyindependent body. Transferring the problem from GPs to employers will certainlymove the political football away from GPs, but will, as usual, place the burdenon employers.Iagree with GPs who say that sick-notes are a complete waste of professionaltime. Presumably they don’t feel this applies to specialist occupational healthpeople who will be faced with exactly the same problem?DrColin ThomasSenior medical officer, BBCIsit a definite case of US and them?Diversitypractices and equal employment opportunities (for all) appear to be alienconcepts in the City of London, at least among major US companies located there.Iwitnessed this after spending 10 long months on a job search with US companiesin London. I am 48, American and black. AUK headhunter with American clients openly asked inappropriate questions aboutmy age. In one instance, I was urged to “be less eager as an American andbe more reserved like the Brits”. Sadly, after visiting more than 30 UScompanies, I saw only one black person in a managerial role. I was evenrejected for the role of diversity director at an elite US investment bank, ajob title I once held in the States for almost five years.Amazingly,in London, the American companies I visited were (and are) the very same onesthat preach diversity and inclusion in the US, yet do not export this practiceto their London locations. TheirHR/recruiting staff don’t even look at all like they do in the States – in London they’re almost all white andyoung. When I visited those firms for my interviews, I felt I had entered atime warp and had been transported back to a lily-white corporate terrain.UScompanies operating in England must extend equal and fair employment practicesto their London offices. And England’s equal and fair employment laws must bemonitored and enforced vigorously. UKrecruiters seem to have no hesitation in asking personal/non-jobdescription-related questions about age (and family). Age questions are illegalin the US, and federal and state laws prevent a lot of employmentdiscrimination. Ihave a degree, an advanced banking diploma (with honours), and an MBA infinance and management. Since 1977, most of my career has been in recruiting atseveral large New York banks, beginning at the Chemical Bank in New York as thedirector of MBA minority recruiting in HR. Imoved to England after marrying a UK citizen, but left in disgust after failingto get a job for 10 months. I soon landed a position in Chicago with a firm asrecruiting director.JohnTorrance-Nesbitt Director in HR – staffing, MonsantoStresssurvey only tells half the storyIread the findings from the Personnel Today/HSE Stress in the UK Workplacesurvey with interest, particularly that 51 per cent of employers think half ofall stress claims are bogus (21 October).Althoughthere may be some validity in this, it only tells half the story. For everyemployee that takes advantage of the rising profile of stress as a managementissue, there will be another genuinely pressurised individual, who feels unableto discuss their stress levels with their manager for fear of repercussions.Ihave included some statistics from a study of 450 business professionalsconducted by my company earlier this year:–76 per cent of survey respondents think their career prospects would be damagedif they complained of stress, and managers confirmed they were right to thinkthis –79 per cent of managers said they would be less likely to employ a candidate ifthey suspected they were prone to stress –87 per cent of managers said they would be less likely to promote an existingemployee if they had doubts about their ability to handle stress.–Although 49 per cent of respondents think their line manager would be concernedor sympathetic if they complained of stress, 24 per cent believe their linemanager would become irritated or annoyed if they raised stress as an issue–Only 34 per cent of respondents said that stress was recognised as an issue intheir workplace–27 per cent said their organisation had a formal process for handlinggrievances or concerns relating to stress.Stresscan affect all of us, so staff shouldn’t be made to feel as if they shouldsuffer in silence. I am very much of the opinion that employers either don’tyet fully appreciate the risks associated with stress, or are taking acalculated gamble that stress won’t affect them. Whateverthe case, the situation needs to be remedied. Management needs to know wherestress exists in an organisation and how it is manifesting itself. They shouldbe open to what a stress audit might find, as it could turn out to besurprisingly positive in many areas, revealing only a limited number of stress‘pockets’ that need to be dealt with.BarrySpenceChief executive, CubiksTimeto review rules on overseas recruits TheWorld Health Organisation is calling for tighter controls on recruiting foreigndoctors, but we think the existing controls need to be looked at first.Ashealth recruitment specialists, it is our view that the Department of Health’sguidance on so-called ethical recruitment is ambiguous. For example, whatconstitutes a ‘developing country’, and why are we allowed to recruit from thePhilippines and not from South Africa?Commentatorsare quick to blame agencies for recruiting abroad when NHS trusts are happilygiving work to overseas candidates. Surely trusts that employ overseas medicalstaff – and in some cases, ride roughshod over the Department of Healthguidance – should at least share the criticism with agencies?Thecriticism of agencies is largely unfounded. We do not believe it is unethicalto recruit from overseas. The vast majority of overseas medical staff that weplace in positions in the UK are working holidaymakers exercising their rightto travel. These candidates benefit from their experience in the UK, and takethat experience back home after a couple of years. They are better doctors andnurses as a result.JuliaFraserManaging director, Medics Incorporated Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.