PAS 1010:2011 Guidance on the management of psychosocial risks in the workplace
A Publicly Available Specification (PAS) is a sponsored fast-track standard driven by the needs of the client organizations and developed according to guidelines set out by BSI.
Key stakeholders are brought together to collaboratively produce a BSI-endorsed PAS that has all the functionality of a British Standard for the purposes of creating management systems, product benchmarks and codes of practice. After two years the PAS is reviewed and a decision is made as to whether it should be taken forward to become a formal British Standard.
When seen in the context of developments in the prevention of stress at work, this PAS doesn’t go far enough in the bottoming out what is needed. There are some ingredients for preventing psychological distress at work, but the approach continues to be mainly therapeutic – first have a problem, then solve it. There is some attempt at identifying the cultural context makes a different but this is handled in such a superficial way as to be seen to be an ‘add on’ rather than central to the prevention process. We are all influenced by the context in which we find ourselves, and behave according to our understanding of the context and the expectations placed on us at the time as we perceive others perceive them.
Manager behaviour doesn’t seem to dominate any aspect of the guidance, yet, at its simplest, controlled communities, such as workplaces, are controlled by managers. Their behaviour is crucial. The HSE/CIPD/IiP understood this with sponsoring research on the behaviours to help implement the HSE Management Standards – still not deep enough, but on the right lines. The IHM Manager’s Code (www.ihm.org.uk) has the behaviours that promote wellbeing and performance, that leads to preventing the incubation of stress, and is where the focus for psychosocial interventions starts.
There is a massive risk of continued under performance in the workplace unless this PAS is revised. All it may take is a re-shaping as there are glimpses of what should work, such as focusing on organisation, workforce and individual, which echoes the MAS approach to Managing my Organisation, Managing My People and Managing Myself, but the PAS itself isn’t structured in this way, and needs to place the purpose, values and cultural imperatives before anything else. Most of the PAS is unfortunately typically bureaucratic, when the subject demands flexibility and adaptability. There does need a change in mindset about this subject – we will not prevent distress until we have managers who understand that high performance comes from the sensation of engagement that is close to psychological flow. This is where we need to aim, and not deviate until we get there.