Is Stress Slowly Killing Your Employees?

BlogHR Advice Posted: Monday 16th April 2018 by

Stress management techniques for HR managers

According to ACAS,  the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) reported in 2015/16 over 480,000 people in the UK said work-related stress was making them ill. This amounts to nearly 40% of all work-related illness.

The HSE reports that the UK lost around 25.7 million working days in 2016/17, due to work-related ill-health. Most of these health issues are due to stress, depression, anxiety, or musculoskeletal disorders.

Stress is a killer. Sometimes quite literally. And, it’s bad for business.

Are you worried that workplace stress is hurting your staff? Stress can cause enormous problems for your business, including low morale, a disgruntled workforce, lack of productivity and high absence rates. And, these issues can be infectious; quickly spreading across your workforce until the problem is out of your control.

Follow these simple stress management techniques for reducing stress (and stress-related absences) in your business.

Identify the issue

Before you can set about solving the problem, you need to identify the issue. Most instances of workplace stress boil down to:

★ Excessive workload and unrealistic deadlines.
★ Lack of enough information or support to do the job.
★ Bullying at work, or trouble with workplace relationships.
★ Lack of engagement when the business is experiencing change.
★ Issues with work-life balance.
★ Not understanding the expectations of the role.
★ Being overloaded with sophisticated technology.

According to the Perkbox 2018 UK Workplace Stress Survey, long working hours (21%) are the most common cause of work-related stress, followed by concerns about work performance.

As a manager, almost all of these issues are within your control. And, as an employer, your business has a legal obligation to ensure the health and welfare of its employees.

There are several ways in which you can identify the areas of your business where stress is most prevalent, including conducting risk assessments and training managers to spot signs of stress in individual members of staff. For example, performance may have dropped in one area of the business. Or, an individual may appear more tired an anxious than usual.

Implement solutions and stress management techniques

Once you have identified the issue, stress management techniques can be negotiated, agreed on, and implemented. Although stressors are individually unique, there are some common threads. Some simple solutions could include:

Encourage your staff to take a lunch break and eat well. Even if it means laying on lunches throughout the week. The cost of a cold buffet or a lunch van in the carpark is far less than the cost of staff absences due to unhealthy eating practices.

Stop your staff from taking their work home. If you often hear that individual employees are bringing work home from the office, then it’s time to intervene. Uncovering the reasons for someone taking their work home could eliminate a lot of stress for that individual. Are they overworked? Do they need support to manage their time more effectively in the office? Are they often interrupted by other people’s problems?

By identifying the cause, you can put a solution in place to prevent it from happening. Staff who take their work home don’t spend as much time with their families as they’d like, sleep less, and have limited downtime. These things can lead to health issues, absences, and unhappy employees.

Encourage a mentally-well culture. Mental health is often high on the agenda of most HR managers. And, by encouraging the whole business to adopt an open communication culture and talk about mental health, you’ll reduce the stress of those currently suffering. Make it clear that talking about stress, anxiety and depression is not a sign of weakness.  And, ensure your managers are prepared to start communications with people who may be showing signs of stress.

Stress is a complex and vastly underrated problem in the modern workplace. We can’t cover the full ins and outs if the issue in one article. However, our professional HR team is available to talk through any problems your business may be experiencing. And, we can provide support with absence management and employee engagement policies. Get in touch today for a no-obligation chat.

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