How to make your workplace stress-savvy
Throughout April 2018, the emphasis on thought leadership in HR should fall on the issue of stress, in order to fully recognise and support Stress Awareness Month. It is important that employers across all organisations set aside the time to consider how stress might be placing undue pressure on their workforce, and how they should be striving to better support their employees.
Stress in the UK
In 2017, the Health and Safety Executive stated that 526,000 workers were suffering from work related stress, anxiety or depression. This is a significant figure made all the more concerning when translated into the number of working days lost to this type of mental health condition; 12.5 million. This belies the massive detriment that stress has on workers, which then has a knock-on effect on UK productivity by reducing our national output of productive working days.
This research from the HSE also pointed out the main drivers of workplace stress as stated by employees. The main reason that workers felt stressed were; workload pressures (particularly tight deadlines), too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support. This chimes with our research at IIP, where our Job Exodus survey for 2018 revealed that poor management was the main driver of discontent for 49% of the workforce who reported feeling unhappy in their current jobs.
How can managers help?
According to the International Stress Management Association (ISMA), there are many signs of employees suffering from stress:
– Inability to concentrate
– Easily distracted
– Lack of creativity,
– Negative thinking
– Lack of motivation
If one of your employees is displaying these signs, and if they are out of character, perhaps consider opening an honest and frank dialogue with them.
Beyond noticing small personality changes (which might be a challenge in a big organisation), there are other, more broad approaches you can take to mitigating the effects of stress on your workplace.
– Encourage health practices for employees; healthy eating, exercise and hydration are all part and parcel of this. Physical wellbeing feeds into psychological wellbeing.
– Encourage employees to switch off their phones at the end of the working day. For some, switching off their work phone might be a symbolic moment, allowing them to assert that they are in control of their working life rather than vice versa.
– Communicate the wellbeing policies that are unique to your workplace. At IIP we offer all employees access to AXA Healthcare support. This means that if one of our team is stressed, they can go directly to the experts if they’d rather not share the root of their stress with us right away
– Train line managers to support their teams. You can’t out-meditate the sort of stress that comes from a bad boss!