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The Impact of Work-related Stress and Psychosocial Risks in Todays World of Work: Implications for Policy and Practice Professor Tom Cox CBE Institute.

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Presentation on theme: "The Impact of Work-related Stress and Psychosocial Risks in Todays World of Work: Implications for Policy and Practice Professor Tom Cox CBE Institute."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Impact of Work-related Stress and Psychosocial Risks in Todays World of Work: Implications for Policy and Practice Professor Tom Cox CBE Institute of Work, Health & Organisations UNIVERSITY OF NOTTINGHAM

2 Changing World of Work Changing nature of workers, work, work organisations and working life: –Globalisation –Free market economics –New IC technology –Unstable banking and trading systems Changing world of work brings new challenges to occupational health ~ psychosocial risks

3 Working people Change in age-related demography of work force Inclusion of increasing numbers of migrant workers Increasingly multi cultural work force Declining standards of literacy and numeracy, declining interest in science and declining ability of young people to think creatively

4 Work From primary extractive and secondary manufacturing sectors to tertiary service sector Less physical and increasingly knowledge-based Greater reliance on information and communication technology (ICT) Move to 24/7 working More part time, temporary, flexible and mobile jobs: precarious work and increased job insecurity

5 Working life Move away from linear careers to career portfolios Changing nature of psychological and social contracts between employee and employer Increasing requirement for self management, intrinsic motivation and creativity Longer working hours Greater intrusion on non work time: work life balance

6 Work organisations Globalisation: free market economics Increasingly competitive environment with continual search for innovation, increased efficiency and increased cost effectiveness Tighter margins but greater expectation for profit and growth Rapid development of advanced information and communication technologies Change in requirements on human capital

7 Self-reported work-related illness UK 1995 Two main clinical problems (as 1993): Musculo-skeletal disorders Stress (26% of those reporting a work-related illness: prevalence estimate 500,000 employees) Supportive findings from survey of working conditions across European Union (2000) N= 21,000 25-33% reported musculo- skeletal problems 28-29% reported stress Jones et al (1998) Self-reported Work- related Illness. Sudbury: HSE Books Paoli and Merllie (2001) Third European Survey of Working Conditions. Dublin: European Foundation

8 Prevalence of work-related illness UK 2003-2004

9 Risk factors for work-related ill health Labour Force Survey (1995) Risk factors: –workload and work pace –work schedule –lack of support –lack of control At risk groups: –Professional workers –Older workers II European Survey (2000) Physical work factors (pages 10-11): 2 pages Psychosocial issues 22 pages Nature of work Work organisation Time issues Information and consultation

10 Psychosocial hazards Term first introduced in late 1980s and early 1990s to refer to those aspects of the design and management of work and work organisations that have the potential to damage the health of workers largely through their experience of work-related stress (ILO). Also known as work and organisational factors Concept often misunderstood as characteristic of the individual or a form of mental ill health

11 Managing psychosocial risks Improving the design and management of work and work organisations: psychosocial risk management Creating a facilitative policy framework Reconciling economic and health and safety concerns: more positive approach Engaging employees Cox et al (2008) GB Health & Safety Executive

12 Risk management cycle Organisational level approach to the challenge of work- related stress Reducing risk to employee health from failures of work design and management through application of evidence- based and systematic problem solving Risk Assessment: Translation & Action Innovation Risk Reduction (control interventions) Evaluation Feedback: organisational learning Cycle of continuous improvement Cox et al (2000) European Agency

13 Creating a facilitative policy framework Design, delivery and evaluation of policy: –Strategy: type of policy intervention ~ legislative or non legislative instrument –Originator and focus of intervention –Standardised or tailored to specific contexts –Marketing and arguments –Engagement and ownership –Capacity building: education –Enforcement strategy –Nature of support offered Political support Framework, tools and procedures

14 Economics of psychosocial risk management In current economic and political context, there is a need to build economic arguments in favour of psychosocial risk management Requires re conceptualisation of area including: –Positive aspects of good work design and management: quantification of opportunities and benefits –Balance (compensation) model of risk –Role in development of human capital –Quantification of economic impact of good risk management: cost benefit analysis and assessment of opportunity costs Requires greater input from organisational economists

15 Employee education and engagement Workers are key stakeholders and active players in process of psychosocial risk management –Source of data: expert judgements –Change agents Need to respect and draw on their expertise Need to encourage and reinforce engagement Requires that workers are educated to participate in the risk management process Requires a shared language of psychosocial risk management Requires a positive culture in relation to health and safety ~ social dialogue and trust

16 Conclusions The world of work is changing and is creating new challenges to worker health among these are psychosocial risks largely associated with work- related stress Work-related stress and musculo-skeletal disorders, both partly driven by exposure to psychosocial hazards, are the two main current challenges to workers health These can be managed at four levels: organisational interventions ~ policy framework, economic and conceptual arguments and that of the worker

17 Thank You

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