Last week I was talking to a friend who is metaphorically “drowning at work” due to the size of her job and the success of the organisation that she works for.  She made her line manager aware of this fact and the suggested solution was for her to “do a to do list”.

On 28 May, the World Health Organisation announced that it would be recognising “burn out” as a chronic condition on its International Classification of Diseases list from 2020.  It classifies burn out as a “syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.  Its three characteristics:

  • Feeling of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativity or cynicism relating to one’s job; and 
  • Reduced professional efficacy.

The Health & Safety Executive audited evidence from a 1,000 cases that they have dealt with (stress at work is now the biggest cause of lost work-related days) and developed a Talking Toolkit which gives some routes to talk to staff about the common elements any manager will have to deal with when dealing with any employee irrespective of their actual job.  This covers the control the employee has over their work and working environment, change that they experience in the workplace, the demands of the job and working relationships.  Ultimately, the employer is in charge of controlling three of these factors. Whilst the toolkit isn’t designed to be a panacea, it is a useful starting point. Perhaps if the line manager I heard the story about had been given some training in the availability of the toolkit, they would not have been so insensitive!

We have currently got a special offer to celebrate our 6th Birthday in relation to training sessions booked before 1 September 2019 – if you did want to roll out some practical training for line managers on what they do when an employee mentions they are stressed at work or receive a Doctor’s note saying that somebody is experiencing stress caused by work, you would receive a 10% reduction on normal prices. For more information email: