How to combat stress in the workplace
With deadlines, targets and an ongoing pressure to perform, the working environment tends to breed stress which can be hugely detrimental to the wellbeing of your employees.
It’s very normal to feel stressed. The feeling of being under pressure is part and parcel of life and the many different challenges we face. However, for many people, stress can take over and lead to mental health problems or make existing problems worse.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. On top of this, work-related stress is a key issue. In 2018/19 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for a staggering 54% of all working days lost to ill health.
We are a stressed nation and work is a significant contributing factor. So, with it being National Stress Awareness Day, it’s an important opportunity for your business to think about the impact of stress and offer advice and support to help your employees keep on top of their stress levels.
Here’s some tips to help you combat stress in the workplace.
1- Identify the signs
Many of your employees might not feel comfortable admitting that they’re stressed, so it’s your job to look out for the key signs that might indicate an employee is struggling.
Stress can manifest itself in many different ways depending on the individual. For example, some employees might seem irritable, aggressive or wound up, while others might be visibly anxious or nervous.
An unhealthy amount of stress will also distract people from important things in their lives such as their health, relationships and hobbies. So, if an employee is spending an unusual amount of time at work, opting out of social events or not looking after themselves properly, they might be suffering.
Taking the time to spot these signs will allow you to address the issue proactively rather than providing support when an employee has already reached breaking point, so be mindful of how your employees are behaving at work and reach out.
2- Respect work/life balance
An effective way of tackling stress is to try and avoid it in the first place, and you can do this by looking at your business’ culture and general approach to work.
Your working environment will have a tremendous impact on your employees’ stress levels. For example, if you have a ‘keep calm and carry on’ culture of employees working when they’re ill, staying late and generally working more than they should, there will be a subtle expectation there that puts a lot of pressure on employees.
A work/life balance is absolutely necessary. Remember that your employees are human, and not only do they have limited capacity in terms of work, they have a life outside of work that they need to enjoy as well. By having a working culture that respects their time will ensure that they’re not overloaded by work and stress.
3 – Deliver wellbeing support
An unhealthy amount of stress will challenge the wellbeing of your employees, which is why you should have a range of services on offer to help boost morale and reverse the negative effects of stress.
To support your employees’ wellbeing, there is an abundance of information, tools and services out there that come in many different forms. You could give them access to mindfulness courses, self-help guides and stress management tips, for example. These will give them practical tools to manage stress going forwards. A healthy body supports a healthy mind, so why not encourage your employees to get active and improve their fitness too? Benefits such as discounted gym memberships and online fitness classes are valuable ways of helping your employees tackle stress and make themselves feel more in control.
When it comes to stress management in the workplace, it’s all about being proactive rather than reactive. With a supportive culture that keeps employees happy, healthy and motivated, you’ll help to reduce stress long term.
For further resources for National Stress Awareness Day, visit the Mind website.
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