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Stress Prevention and Management SOP

To be read in conjunction with

Stress Prevention and Management Policy

Approval Date
1 September 2016
Approved By
Chief Executive
Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety

In relation to policy Stress Prevention and Management the following standard operating procedures should be followed.


What is stress?

Stress as part of life is normal and is often a positive experience in that it challenges and motivates us.

Stress can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on many things and there is a complex interaction between all aspects of a person’s life that occurs to make them feel well or unwell.  There is a great range of difference with individuals and their responses - there are variable degrees of tolerances, past experiences, perceptions, amount of support they get from personal and work relationships, health status, interest and importance/meaning they find in their job, changes in life and personal circumstance. 

To maintain good health and a sense of well-being, a balance between stimulation and rest is required. 

“Stress” is a commonly used term.  It is not a diagnosis or illness.  However, stressors (see below) may combine or increase to contribute to a sense of feeling overburdened or unwell.



These are events or circumstance that can lead to someone feeling that physical or psychological demands are about to exceed his or her ability to cope.  They can:

  • Be inherent in a job because of factors that make the occupation what it is – such as in the mixture of pressures in police work or psychiatric nursing; with shift work; jobs with exposure to the threat of violence
  • Arise because of the way a job is organised.  This may include physical factors (excess noise, heat, cold etc.) as well as physiological factors that affect the body’s balance (shift work, inadequate recuperative time etc.)
  • Arise out of excessive demands such as unrealistic family expectations or deadlines at work
  • Arise out of personal factors such as health status, relationships, ability, or inability to cope with difficult situations, etc.


Workplace Stress

Department of Labour, Occupational Safety and Health, describes workplace stress as being a result of interaction between a person and their work environment.  For the person, it is the awareness of not being able to cope with the demands of their work environment, with an associated negative emotional response.

Where individuals may not be coping with the demands/requirements of their work at Otago Polytechnic Limited, it is important that the contributing factors be identified and investigated through a managed process. 



Department of Labour, Occupational Health and Safety, describes fatigue as the temporary inability, decrease in ability, or strong disinclination to respond to a situation because of previous over-activity, either mental or physical.



Awareness of excessive stress and fatigue when it develops is good and responding to it is necessary to maintain health and wellbeing.  This will involve finding solutions, implementing change in situations and it is likely that it will involve the assistance of other people. 

Where the impact of stress and fatigue approaches a level of impairment it is essential that there is change.  To maintain safety and wellness at work, and to meet OSH requirements, managers who observe impairment in an employee at work, and employees who are experiencing signs of impairment, should report this situation and implement a process of support and change. 


Research has shown work related stress to have adverse effect for organisations in terms of:

  • Employee commitment to work
  • Staff performance and productivity
  • Staff turnover and intention to leave
  • Attendance levels
  • Staff recruitment and retention
  • Learner satisfaction
  • Organisational image and reputation
  • Potential for litigation

Consideration should be given to the impact on the individual and their unit or team.  For example, losing one colleague for a period with a stress-related illness can have a dramatic impact on the workload and morale of the rest of the team.


Tackling stress prevents ill health

There is convincing evidence that prolonged periods of stress, including work related stress, have an adverse effect on health.  Research provides links with stress and

  • Physical effects such as heart disease and ongoing back pain, headaches, gastrointestinal and sleep disturbances, and various minor illnesses; and
  • Psychological effects such as anxiety and depression

Otago Polytechnic Limited encourages a healthy workplace culture, supports individual staff and managers to identify stressors and to assist each other in dealing with them. This approach is based on managers, staff and their representatives working together to continuously improve performance in tackling work-related stress and in supporting staff where the impact of personal stress is impacting on their work.



Provision of information on stress management (pamphlets, training)

Staff Assistance Programme (SAP)

Training opportunities e.g. Stress Prevention and Management, Dealing with Difficult People, Time Management.


Formal Leaders

Will maintain a healthy work environment by ensuring:

  • Good communication between leadership and staff, particularly where there are organisational and procedural changes.
  • Staff are fully trained to discharge their duties.
  • Constructive and timely feedback to staff on performance is provided.
  • Staff are provided with meaningful development opportunities.
  • Workloads are monitored to ensure that staff are not overworking.
  • Leave is monitored/managed to ensure that staff are taking their full entitlement.
  • That they are proactive in identifying and dealing with stressors and stress.
  • That they encourage staff to attend seminars relating to stress prevention and management.


Support available for individuals

Resources are available to assist staff.  Discuss your individual needs with your manager or the Human Resources staff.  Training opportunities are available, and a Staff Assistance Programme is available.  Individual support is very helpful and is available from a range of sources including:

  • Trusted colleague or friend
  • EAP counsellor (confidential)
  • Director: Health and Safety
  • Chaplain
  • Health and Safety Advisors
  • Head of College/Programme Head
  • Family/whanau
  • Mentor/professional
  • People and Culture
  • Union representative
  • Doctor or nurse


Health and Safety Investigation re Report of Work-Related Stress - Form


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