Stress management standards: a warning indicator for employee health

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Psychological stress is a major cause of lost working days in the UK. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has developed management standards (MS) to help organizations to assess work-related stress.


To investigate the relationships between the MS indicator tool and employee health, job attitudes, work performance and environmental outcomes.


The first phase involved a survey employing the MS indicator tool, General Health Questionnaire-12 (GHQ-12), job attitudes, work performance and environmental measures in a call centre from a large utility company. The second phase comprised six focus groups to investigate what employees believed contributed to their perceived stress.


Three hundred and four call centre employees responded with a response rate of 85%. Significant negative correlations were found between GHQ-12 and two MS dimensions; demands (Rho = −0.211, P < 0.001) and relationships (Rho= −0.134, P < 0.05). Other dimensions showed no significant relationship with GHQ-12. Higher levels of stress were associated with reduced job performance, job motivation and increased intention to quit but low stress levels were associated with reduced job satisfaction. Lack of management support, recognition and development opportunities were identified as sources of stress.


The findings support the utility of the MS as a measure of employee attitudes and performance.

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