Geographically positioned within the centre of Northern Ireland, Cookstown District Council (The Council) is a medium sized local authority with a workforce of some 280 employees. It is one of twenty six local authorities across Northern Ireland and as such has a range of statutory functions to fulfil. As well as these statutory obligations the work areas in which the Council is heavily involved in has expanded dramatically over recent years. This expansion of work has brought with it many challenges for Council employees in adapting to, meeting and managing public expectations.
Why tackle Work-Related Stress? In August 2006 the Council identified a number of drivers to review the approach taken in managing work-related stress. These included: Concerns over the number of days of sickness absence lost to the Council due to work-related stress. Guidance issued by the Health & Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) Challenges and uncertainties for staff arising from the restructuring of local government as part of the Northern Ireland wide Review of Public Administration.
A need to deliver and develop a co-ordinated approach and build upon actions already undertaken in dealing with stress. Desired Outcomes of the Review. The senior management team identified that they wanted the review to: Involve the entire workforce meaningfully. Identify the extent to which work related stress existed. Develop tangible actions to deal with and minimise the causes of stress. Reduce the number of sick days lost to the Council due to stress. Examine the effectiveness of the processes for helping staff deal with stress. Ensure that a healthy working environment existed for all employees Measure and consolidate on actions taken by Council to date. “The review provided the opportunity to identify and address the root causes of stress in our Council and reshape if necessary our existing mechanisms for dealing with the issue. ’’ Ivor Paisley, Director of Corporate Services