982 Improving management skills in addressing employee stress

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Stress related symptoms are common in staff of large tertiary hospitals. However, the quality of support received from management varies widely. As a Specialist Registrar in the Occupational Health Department of such a hospital, I sought to improve the competency of line managers across four key areas of stress management by providing an educational intervention.


Using a standardised self-assessment rating scale, a learning and development need was identified among line managers. This information was used in order to prepare a workshop, using a standardised approach, aimed at improving their understanding of stress, how to recognise stress in the workplace and how to manage an employee experiencing stress. After delivering the workshop, participants subsequently repeated the self-assessment rating scale, and the change in competency was measured.


A statistically significant improvement was seen across all four competency levels measured, with p-values for each measuring less than 0.05. The mean scores from all participants in their post-intervention self-assessments were in excess of the 90% threshold for effectiveness in each area.


Feedback following the workshop was positive and a clear improvement in managers’ competency was achieved. This was further supported by examining referrals to the department from workshop participants both before and after the intervention, with an improvement in the quality of information supplied noted.


Although the number of participants was small, with seven participants fully completing all evaluations, each participant is responsible for an average of twenty employees’. Therefore the intervention has the potential to positively affect up to 150 employees, with a consequent reduction in absenteeism, and healthcare costs attributable to stress, likely. In order to accurately quantify this, long-term absenteeism rates should be measured.


The findings of this project demonstrate a clear benefit in engaging managers in educational workshops to improve their competency in dealing with employees who are experiencing work-related stress.

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