One of the biggest issues faced by employers today is the mental health of their staff. According to the Health & Safety Executive’s latest Labour Force Survey for 2020/21, work related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 50% of all work-related ill health.
Stress can impact employees’ mental and physical wellbeing and affect their performance, behaviour, and relationships with other staff members. Knowing how to help staff to manage the factors that increase stress is key to managing people effectively and help prevent long-term absence.
Many of us take steps to manage stress in our own lives through healthy eating and lifestyle habits, exercising, getting enough sleep, hobbies that enable us to unwind etc, but left unmanaged, stress can cause real problems. Consequently, employees can be suffering from poor health, lack of sleep and an inability to focus during their working day which in turn has a tangible impact for the employer.
Spotting differences in staff behaviour is an important skill in managing stress. Good managers also take responsibility to ensure their management style is not making things worse (or even the cause in the first place!). On the other hand, an open, balanced, and communicative manager will play a key role in a lower turnover of confident and productive staff – all key to a thriving business.
According to the Perkbox UK stress survey for 2020, a staggering 79% of employed British adults experience workplace stress – a rise of 20% in just two years.– and by far the biggest cause of stress.
The most common causes of work-related stress, according to the findings of the survey, were:
work-related office politics (37%),
lack of inter-departmental communications (34%), and
the work performance of others (33%).
The other most common forms of stress come from monetary or financial stress (60%) and family stress (48%).
12 ways to help reduce employee stress….
Promote balance: Both flexible working, including hybrid working arrangements and working more from home where possible, and an emphasis on work carried out rather than hours spent, can help employees better manage their work-life balance.
Monitor workloads carefully: Consider hiring temporary workers for busy periods, include employees in discussions about their targets so you can gauge what they feel is realistic. Realistic goals and targets are less likely to be a source of stress or frustration and remember even top employees have limits.
Commuter stress: If it’s the commute that’s the root of the stress consider offering remote working at times, or different start or end times to allow travel at off-peak periods. HR software and other digital tools make remote working super easy to manage.
Provide feedback: Appraisals can be done more frequently than once a year, but you can also take time to give a little feedback each day – feeling valued lowers stress. Having regular, structured one-to-ones can be part of this approach.
Simplify: Does every project need to be approved by so many team members? If onerous procedures or lack of autonomy are stress factors, try and revise and rethink your procedures. Where possible, simplify them and allow staff to have autonomy – demonstrating trust is highly motivating.
Holidays: Encourage employees to take their annual leave and try to accommodate any requests to take any carried over leave that staff couldn’t take during the pandemic. Discourage the answering of emails or any engagement with work during this time. Relax, switch off and unwind, a holiday can recharge the batteries and give perspective.
Variety: If an employee is bored consider diversifying their role, can they learn in other departments for part of the week, or can you offer training to re-engage them? Something as simple as rearranging the workspace might help. Have a chat and see what would alleviate their boredom and stress.
Environment: Lowering noise levels, lighting or temperature can help reduce physical stress caused by an uncomfortable or unproductive workplace. Consulting staff on the results of your Covid-19 Health and Safety risk assessment looking at social distancing and hygiene measures you can take in your workplace, will allow employees to raise any specific concerns they may have.
Job Shadowing: A job shadowing plan during paid working hours can help bring the team together and provide a shared and meaningful experience. This can help alleviate stress, and depression and boost the team’s understanding of workplace pressures at the same time.
Pay and incentives: Competitive pay and good incentives may not directly reduce stress in the short term, but bad pay rates can lead to real stress and frustration if the job feels like it takes more than it gives.
Social: Ensure teams can share experiences, support each other over tea and cake or bond over pizza. Social interaction can ease tension and enhance relationships at work.
Talk to staff about self-care: Encourage staff to practise self-care such as a healthy routine for diet, sleep, and relaxation. The Mental Health Foundation has published guidance about looking after your mental health through exercise, suggesting that even short, 10 minute bursts of physical activity increase our energy, mood, and our mental sharpness. Implement walking meetings instead of sitting across a desk!
If you would like support in managing employee stress, please get in touch with the Robinson Grace HR Team via email@example.com or ring 07970 260104.
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The content of our blogs is intended for general information only and does not replace legal or other professional advice.