Stating the obvious

Jul 10 2007 by Charles Helliwell Print This Article

A mouth-watering study on employee absence, this time from the UK's Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), has revealed the startling fact that "employees in small firms are less likely to suffer from work-related stress than those in large organisations..."

Well knock me over with a cleft stick whilst I digest and absorb this stunningly original assessment. No – wait – there's more. One of the main causes of this stress is – no surely not - workload!

This could be because employees in smaller companies see the direct impact and value of their work, whilst the work of those in larger organisations is generally more amorphous, the CIPD suggests.

The study adds that organisations ought to provide "sensible working opportunities to help people balance the conflicting pressures between work and home, and introduce a policy on stress management, as recommended by the Health and Safety Executive".

I'm not sure I've ever seen anything more unhelpful.

If organisations had the slightest interest in pursuing this line, they would have done so by now. The truth is they don't. It is far easier for them to allow work-related stress to continue to take its toll on the working population - a sort of natural culling, if you prefer.

Most organisations, large or small, haven't got the slightest interest in the wellbeing of their workforce. That's what's helped to create a global economy in coaching and mentoring. It's a bit like taking your car to get serviced now and again – tune it up and keep it ticking over as an insurance against terminal breakdown.

Banging on about "sensible working opportunities" and a "policy on stress management" is a bit like asking a car owner to drive it exactly as the manual or handbook specifies (at a constant 56 mph). It's just not going to happen, and industry bodies such as the CIPD should stop being so naïve and think again.

The real answers lie in educating and persuading organisations to optimise the productivity and effectiveness of their employees by investing in their capabilities and potential - and that starts with looking beyond their ability to perform the tasks they have been hired for and not by creating yet more useless bureaucratic guidelines.

Just ask anyone who runs a small business...