Workplace stress / resilience

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2018 Higher Education Service Group Conference
19 September 2017

Work-related stress affects far too many of our members. Work-related stress is now a major issue for our union as members have to deal with workload problems day in and day out. A high level of workplace stress is stressful to our bodies, our mental health and can lead to serious ill health and absenteeism for work.

The health and safety executive definition of stress is “The reaction people have to excessive demands or pressures, arising when people try to cope with tasks, responsibilities or the types of pressure connected with their job, but find difficulty, strain or worry doing so”.

A recent UNISON survey on stress revealed that workload is a major concern for members. Members working in the Higher Education sector tell us that workload pressure is a concern for them too as they struggle with extra workload pressures while operating with reduced staffing levels due to redundancies and unfilled vacancies. The work left behind is simply farmed out to someone else putting more pressure on colleagues that are already under tremendous pressures to deliver for their institutions and the students.

Workload and stress is becoming more evident and will reach a crisis if not addressed.

Many factors contribute to workplace stress and include communication, relationships, workload, change, demands and control. Many employers fail to recognise this or do anything to combat the problem of work stress.

This conference calls on the Higher Education Service Group Executive conference to:

1)Extend UNISON’s national workload initiative with the support of the other Higher Education unions and employers to expediently produce recommendations for Higher Education Institutions on reducing workload stress on support staff;

2)Engage with the appropriate body to get all Higher Education Institutions to conduct risk assessments and work with the union to produce an action plan for dealing with stress and reducing instances of workload and work related stress;

3)Collect information on agreements and best practice in the sector to inform other institutions.