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Scoring work stressors

As part of the Work Positive initiative, the HSA has adopted and adapted the UK HSE’s Management Standards approach.  The Management Standards approach focuses on improving certain areas of work which will have a positive effect on employee wellbeing and performance. A total of 35 questions are used to produce seven work stressor category scores; Demands, Control, Manager Support, Peer Support, Relationships, Role and Change. 


How is it scored?

An average figure is calculated for each question and Work Stressor category. The scores range from 0 to 4. A lower score indicates poor performance or a potential problem area.  Scores are normalized into a scale of 0 to 100.

Work Stressors are scored using a benchmark scoring system. Your organisation’s scores are compared (benchmarked) with other organisations that have completed the survey.  The benchmark comparison group consists of a sample of over 13,000 Irish employees and 82 organisations that have taken the Work Positive survey to date. The scores are then colour-coded depending on how well your organisation’s results compare with other organisations.

The scoring benchmarks developed for each question and Work Stressor category are presented as colour coded percentiles:


  • RED – Your organisation scored in the bottom 20% - Urgent action is required
  • AMBER – Your organisation scored below average (between 20% and 50%)  - Improvement needed
  • BLUE – Your organisation scored above average (between 50% and 80%) – good, but there is the potential for improvement
  • GREEN – Your organisation scored in the top 20%  - an excellent result – try to maintain performance


Benchmarked scores are particularly useful as they allow organisations to take account of societal norms and identify opportunities for improvement.  For example, you may feel your organisation has scored well in a particular work category (e.g. Role), however if your peers (i.e. other organisations) are all performing better there is clearly an opportunity to consider improvement.


We are often asked ‘Why does 65 score in the red category for ‘Role’ but in the green category for ‘Demands?’ It is important to remember that benchmark scores vary from category to category and from question to question. For example, the average response for the Control category (say 76) may be higher than the average response for the Demands category (say 64). Therefore, it may be possible to score 70 in each category and be above average in one yet below average in the other. The percentile boundaries as well as the averages vary for each Work Stressor. Please note that scores are useful to compare with past results and to benchmark against other companies but cannot be meaningfully compared across different categories.


Interpreting Workplace stressors results

The Work Stressors questions do not indicate there is a problem; rather, they indicate the presence of conditions that may lead to a problem. This is an important distinction to make. Even when the data appear to suggest clear hot spots, it is important to check this out with your employees.  You will need to share and discuss the outcomes of the survey and other data collected with employees, and explore any issues raised in more detail.