Work-related stress, anxiety and depression are experienced by 1 in 6 British workers each year. This ill-health is costing business in the region of £26 billion each year due to increased staff turnover and lost working days.
How can you as an employer support your staff at difficult times?
What is stress at work?
Stress is defined as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demands placed on them’.
This is distinct from normal workplace pressure, which can be a motivating factor. Simply put, stress at work is when your staff feel out of control. This can include having too heavy a workload, constantly conflicting deadlines, negative working relationships or factors in their personal life which impact their overall ability to perform.
Stress is the reaction to those circumstances, and your staff feeling unable to cope.
Stress can also cause mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
What are the signs of stress?
There are many ways in which stress can manifest itself and everyone is different but some signs to look for in the workplace may include:
• poor decision making
• inability to concentrate
• increased mistakes
• being restless
• eating too much or too little
• irritability, aggression and being impatient
• anxiety or nervousness
• loss of sense of humour
• constant worrying or tearfulness
What can you as an employer do to prevent stress in the workplace?
It is important to look at the causes of stress, often things such as a lack of communication and misunderstanding of job roles can promote a stressful environment.
• keep staff informed of business changes as much as is practical so they are not left in doubt and uncertainty
• make sure your staff are working in an environment that is suitable for the task
• make sure staff know what you expect of them, how they can help the business achieve its aims and how the business can help them in return
• be open to suggestions and listen to your staff
• ensure effective, supportive, friendly working relationships
• have clear policies and take action to deal with workplace bullying
What practical steps can you take as an employer to support your staff?
It doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming to introduce ways to support staff.
Here are some low cost and common sense actions you can take as a business:
• define the job role and responsibilities and involve your employees in workload planning
• allow your staff to be involved in their development path
• promote an open and supportive environment – let staff know they can be open about any issues they may have so problems can be solved
• If staff are returning from sick leave taken as a result of mental ill health, consider what reasonable adjustments you could make to working practices
• informal buddy schemes can be very helpful to allow new staff to adjust to their new working environment more quickly
What is my duty of care to my staff?
As an employer, you have a duty of care to your employees physical and mental health under Health & Safety Legislation. You have a duty to assess the risks arising from hazards at work including work-related mental health problems. This can include, but is by no means limited to:
• ensuring a safe working environment
• providing rest areas for staff
• protecting staff from discrimination, bullying or harassment
• consulting staff on issues that affect them
Being concerned for the safety and well being of your staff has business benefits too. It helps to build trust which improves staff retention, productivity and employee engagement.
Join our Managing Stress in the Workplace workshop to find out how to reduce and manage stress in your business. Or contact Debbie now on 01278 802329 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.