Occupational Health Services during Recession a Necessity

Posted by: admin on: May 9, 2012

A study by the researchers of Nottingham University after a survey of 17,000 civil servants confirms the need of occupational health care during times of recession.

Team@CMHF

A study, published in the journal Occupational Medicine, also found that the number of staff taking time off due to job stress increased by 25 per cent during an economic downturn. The findings are a stark warning to employees and employers at a time when gloomy predictions of Britain’s economic prospects suggest a ‘double dip’ recession.

The pressures of work

Scientists assessed how exposed respondents were to the pressures of work by looking at areas such as the demands of the job, control over work and the support they felt they had from managers. They also measured workers perceptions of how stressed they were at work and how much time they had taken off because of work related stress. The findings show the importance of focusing on looking after workers’ mental health and wellbeing during difficult economic times.

“The stark differences in the responses given at these two time points clearly show that national economic crises can have substantial implications for workers’ health and organisational performance. The findings suggest that those organisations which seek to reduce work-related stress during austere economic times are likely to experience lower staff absence and greater productivity.”

Risk to productivity

The Society of Occupational Medicine, the UK organisation for all doctors and associated health practitioners with an interest in Occupational Health, claimed that the results showed firms that they should use occupational health services or risk long term damage to their productivity.

We can help businesses look at how they manage stress levels and improve the working environment for workers.”

BT is one company that has recognised this as an issue and been proactive in this area.

Catherine Kilfedder, BT group health advisor, said: “BT has a wealth of information and support for its people and families on many aspects of health and wellbeing, including the impact of the recession and stress. When the recession first hit, we partnered with Relate to make additional support available to employees across the UK, in the form of a confidential web chat with counsellors. We continue to promote and develop our resources in these difficult times.”

Depression and anxiety are now the most common reasons for people starting to claim long-term sickness benefits. Occupational health doctors and nurses are trained to assess whether someone is fit to do their job.

Dr Goodall believes that alongside providing good occupational health services, effective communication is the key.

He said: “When recession hits, management needs to be pro-active in letting staff know what is happening so that they remove any uncertainty. When people are worried about their job security they can sometimes over interpret signals and hold irrational beliefs. Clear and timely communication is vital.”

Ref: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-02-recession-work-related-stress-cent.html

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