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Health and Safety

Everyone is entitled to work in a healthy and safe environment where risks to their health and wellbeing are properly monitored and controlled, and this matters to employers because this moral obligation is reinforced by a legal framework that they must follow to ensure compliance with relevant health and safety legislation.

Keeping your employees, customers and visitors safe, and not exposing them to health hazards, is usually a matter of simple common sense and should be done because you care about them, not because you’re frightened of being sued for neglect! As the Health and Safety Executive’s website says: ‘Managing health and safety doesn’t have to be complicated, costly or time-consuming. In fact it’s easier than you think.’ HSE (2014)

Not managing health and safety usually turns out to be much more complicated, costly and time-consuming.

 If you work in an organisation with five employees or more, it should have a written Health and Safety Policy with which you should familiarise yourself. You must make sure that you and your team follow it.

 Remember that you do not have to remove all risks; life itself is a risky business, but an effective leader will want to minimise risks as much as possible, and legally you are obliged to do so. The best way to identify possible risks is to start by walking around your team’s workplace(s) and look out for hazards.

Involve your staff in this for more than one pair of eyes and for ideas about what to do about any dangers you’ve identified. Talk to each team member about any other hazards that they might be confronted with in the course of their work, or which customers or suppliers might face and what can be done to minimise these.

 Bear in mind that circumstances change (new equipment, change of office layouts) as do staff; a new member of staff may be disabled and need special consideration, or one of your team may become pregnant. If you feel at all unsure about any aspect of Health and Safety, refer to https://www.hse.gov.uk/simple-health-safety/

Stress and Work Pressures 

Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.

This includes work pressure, and can result in physical symptoms. It’s not just day-to-day activities that contribute to work pressure, many factors add to the demands on your team.

Most sectors experience frequent change and there’s no doubt that working within a constantly changing environment can be demanding and require you and your team members to cope with unpredictable workloads. As well as to help find ways to help your team meet these demands.

Help team members to reduce stress and manage tasks by encouraging them to adopt a positive attitude and see the value of the task, particularly the scope it has to support their development, or as recognition of their ability to perform at a certain level. 

You can also support them in working out what needs to be done and when, drawing up a schedule where necessary, as well as considering any other deadlines and tasks that can be renegotiated or delegated to others.

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How to say no

You may need to say no to your team taking on extra work, or support team members with learning how to say no.
This can be really difficult, make the process easier by:
• Understanding the nature of the task and considering how the request fits in with your team’s objectives and responsibilities.
• Reviewing the availability of team members, making it clear when it will or won’t be reasonable to allow them to take on extra responsibilities.
• Explaining how additional tasks will impact on other work, making the reasons for saying no, if you choose to do so, clear.
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Work/Life Balance

The Mental Health Foundation, encourages each individual to take ownership for their work-life balance by: Healthy Workplace Picture 4.png


Flexible Working

The growing trend towards flexible working practices, gives employees flexibility on where, when and the hours they work. Although traditionally associated with the needs of parents and carers, increasingly organisations are recognising the business benefits of a more flexible way of working.

‘My business is built on flexible working. It means I attract and retain very good, committed and loyal people who are never worried about work/life balance as that is at the heart of our business values.’

Private sector CEO, 10–49 employees(Institute of Leadership & Management, 2015).


Although short periods of pressure can help individuals to achieve challenging targets, in the long term stress can have a serious impact on both physical and mental health. Research by Be Mindful (2017) has shown that mindfulness can reduce the physical symptoms of stress and reduce anxiety. Mindfulness encourages the use of 
techniques such as meditation, yoga and mind-body exercises helping individuals learn to cope with stress.
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Be Mindful (2017). Mindfulness Based Stressed-Reduction www.bemindful.co.uk/understanding-mindfulness/mindfulness-based-stress-reduction
Briner, R & Dewberry, C (2007). Staff Wellbeing is Key to School Success Worklife Support Ltd
HSE (2014). Health and safety made simple https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg449.pdf
HSE (2020). Health and safety made simple https://www.hse.gov.uk/simple-health-safety/
Institute of Leadership & Management (2015). Flexible Working www.InstituteLM.com/resourceLibrary/FlexibleWorking.html
The Institute of Leadership & Management (2017). Mind Culture www.InstituteLM.com/resourceLibrary/MindCulture.html 
The Mental Health Foundation (2017). Work-Life Balance www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/w/work-life-balance
Tomsett, J (2013). How Can Teachers and Leaders Promote Staff Wellbeing? The Guardian www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2013/jul/01/school-staff-wellbeing-headteacher-leaders


How do you create a healthy workplace? Test yourself with our Scorecard.

If you’re a member, you can test yourself on The Healthy Workplace and see if you meet the standard.



Further Resources

From the blog