EDITORIAL: Nineties Stressfest draws to a close

EDITORIAL: Nineties Stressfest draws to a close - Employers across the land will have experienced a collective adrenaline-level reduction on hearing the recent news from the Court of Appeal that tough curbs are on the way for compensation claims for stres

by RUFUS OLINS, Editor-in-Chief and MATTHEW GWYTHER, Editor
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Employers across the land will have experienced a collective adrenaline-level reduction on hearing the recent news from the Court of Appeal that tough curbs are on the way for compensation claims for stress at work. Three judges ruled that employers should not have to pay damages for stress-induced psychiatric illness unless it was reasonably foreseeable that the employee would fall ill.

At MT we've always had our worries about the late '90s stress bandwagon when the phenomenon gradually developed into public enemy number one, the West's last 20th-century epidemic. Some of the compensation payments were undoubtedly getting out of hand and there's no denying the fact that one person's unbearable stress is another person's job satisfaction. There is also serious concern that it's often difficult to distinguish between stress generated at work and stress deriving from other causes, such as domestic problems. Nobody should be put wilfully under unbearable pressure in earning their living, but we side with Sir John Harvey-Jones's observation that 'the creative use of conflict and stress is the key to change'.

Even so, no manager should allow stress to get the better of him or her. But it needs a properly qualified individual - rather than an unqualified 'stress counsellor' clutching a copy of The Little Book of Calm - to diagnose the potentially serious conditions of clinical anxiety and depression. Our 'Become a Bionic Boss' feature this month gives tips on how to stay fit at work and avoid being removed from the office on a stretcher with a saline drip and a heart monitor attached.

One way to ease your agonies at work is to discuss them with a partner. A problem shared is a problem halved, as they say. 'Managing Partners', our photographic exhibition sponsored by BT, depicting 21 of the country's professional partnerships, opens this month at the National Portrait Gallery. Do go along to the exhibition if you're in London - it runs from 5 March until 30 June.

And talking of June ... Let's hope Sven and his other half Tord Grip remain the cool, calm and collected partnership they appear to be on MT's cover this month when they're crouched in that Japanese dugout guiding Our Boys through the World Cup this summer. We wouldn't want to sound unduly pessimistic about the Swedish duo's future mental health, but, speaking as Englishmen, we have to face the fact that ever since the glory days of 1966 a close involvement with our national soccer team has been enough to give even the steadiest of souls a nervous breakdown.

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