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Workplace stress - detoxifying management

Discussion in 'Pay and conditions' started by i4004, Dec 8, 2018.


Would you like to see OFSTED checking compliance with the HSE Management Standards?

  1. Yes

  2. No

    0 vote(s)
  1. i4004

    i4004 New commenter

    Stressed and need help? Better still, do you need protection from the causes of your workplace stress?

    The good news is that the protection is there in law. The bad news is that no one seems to know about that protection and so it is not being applied.

    There have been a run of recent TES articles on toxic workplaces and stress; there have also been books written on the same. Yet as far as I can see none of them mention the protection given by the HSE Management Standards; not even in the TES article, 'Five tips to help you tackle work related stress in schools', this from the workplace stress lead at the HSE, Roger McGreal. Sorry Roger but you really should have known about your own management standards.

    Under the 1999 management of health and safety at work regulations employers have a duty to risk assess known hazards to health. Since the Whitehall study by Michael Marmot it has been known that the main cause of workplace stress is bad or negligent management.

    The HSE management standards are not standards for managing stress they are standards that the managers must meet in their management actions. Standards on such factors as the demands they place on people and the support they give them. They give employers the equivalent duty to that of removing the trip hazards rather than that of training people in the best ways to fall over when tripped or showing that you care after they have tripped and suffered an injury.

    However I do not suggest that you approach your own management and suggest that they change what they are doing because they are breaking the law. You are likely to find that this form of insubordination stresses them and that they become angry! The recently discovered status centre in the brain is directly connected to the amygdala which is the anger management Centre in the brain. (NIMH human brain appears hardwired for hierarchy, 2008, following my own hypothesis for the same centre in the same place of 2006, google group bio.sci.evolution, 'The Spirituality of Chimps'. Yes my background is in biology; I now teach the other system science, computing.

    Nor is it any good approaching your union at present. It is far better that we all campaign to have the management standards known and applied throughout education rather than that individuals try to take their own action.

    The situation of general ignorance could be about to change following the publication of the 2017 Stevenson Farmer report, 'Thriving at work' commissioned by the Prime Minister. Paul farmer is the CEO of mindand so it is odd that Mind's own advice on workplace stress does not include the management standards.The Stevenson farmer report, page 40 to 43, recommendsthat the management standards be applied by every employer. This to reduce the levels of workplace stress which are estimated to cost the UK economy annually up to £99 billion.

    The action that I think is required for schools is for compliance with the management standards to be included in OFSTED and ISI inspections. I suggested this to OFSTED some 10 years ago but was rebuffed.

    I have put this OFSTED suggestion, via my MP Nusrat Ghani MP, to the Minister of State for School Standards Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP. He has kindly replied that he does know that the management standards should be applied in every school but that they are not currently thinking of having OFSTED check that they are being applied. That could change with some political pressure from teachers.

    The other bodies that could have an effective role in seeing these standards applied are the teaching unions. The NEU/ATL tell me, as they have since 2008, when I first saw these standards and tried to get them applied, that they do not have support for the application of the management standards as part of their policy. I dare say the same applies to the NEU/NUT section which by their rather out of date web pages, on the subject, views the management standards as voluntary.

    It is clearly not voluntary to risk assess the known hazards to staff mental health, this must be done. Such was also recently confirmed to me by Jackie Doyle-Price MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health. The management standards tell management how that risk assessment should be done. The HSE management standards are supported by ACAS, who provide managers with training in their application. And who would like to argue with them?

    Good news is that the HSE has recently updated it website to make it clear that all employers have a legal duty to risk assess and that the management standards show them how to do this. Before the update their message was less direct.

    So if you think these two proposals are a good idea, that is that both OFSTED and the unions put these standards into place, and so protect all teachers from stress negligently or deliberately induced by managers, then please share this post as widely as possible on social media and tick 'Like'.

    This so that we can detoxify the school workplace by controlling the known hazards to staff mental health. This should thereby reduce the widespread suffering that is being caused at such great cost to the education sector and the NHS. Not to mention the education of our young.

    It goes without saying that if managers follow the management standards they will be far less able to bully staff.

    To read the management standards Google 'workplace stress HSE'. You can also find the Stevenson Farmer report by the same method.

    To find a ready-made model of management, that complies with the management standards, look up the 'Adair Action Centred Leadership' method or as I have recently discovered Principle Led Servant Leadership. I first met the Adair method as a CCF RN officer back in 1987 and was bowled over by its impact on the cadets.

    Adair is professor of leadership for the United Nations but taught the MOD and Industrial Society his leadership methods. As he confirmed to me, his methods are the same as those of Saint Benedict (circa 500 AD) - so there is nothing new in this.

    Of course it goes without saying that if you are a school leader who is kind, listens to people and treats them as if they were friends rather than as if they were servants, then you will need none of this. The one example of a school that I know of and which applies such principles is the outstanding Beacon School in Crowborough. If there are others then we should all know about them.

    So please tick Like and please share this as widely as possible on social media so that the suffering and the cost to the economy can be reduced as quickly as possible.

    Mark Thomas

    Stressed of
    Tunbridge Wells

    (yes, really and I am not the comedian!)
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2018
  2. i4004

    i4004 New commenter

    Posted here in error - reposted in 'workplace dilemmas' - apologies.

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