The majority of people experience stress at some point in their working life. And, although a little stress can sometimes be a good thing and make employees focus more on what they need to get done, prolonged stress can lead to serious physical and mental issues. It affects employees and companies in a very negative way by reducing efficiency and making good employees hand in their notice.
A report made by the UK HSE shows that over 13 million working days are lost every year because of stress in the UK alone. Moreover, stress-related employee absence is estimated to cost the UK economy around £3.8 billion per year, it triggers 70% of visits to doctors and 85% of serious illnesses.
The most common causes of excessive workplace stress are considered to be the fear of being laid off, overtime, pressure to perform to meet rising expectations and pressure to work at optimum levels all the time.
Recognising stress at work
Individuals respond to stress in different ways depending on their personality, perceptions and past experiences. In some cases, there are clear signs that people are experiencing stress at work and if these can be identified early, action can be taken before it becomes a problem.
When exposed to prolonged or repeated stress, employees may potentially suffer from a number of adverse reactions:
They might experience negative and/or depressive feelings
They tend to change their attitude
They become withdrawn or isolated
They experience difficulty in concentrating or making decisions
They arrive to work late or take more time off
They might experience tiredness, lethargy or lack of interest
How to tackle stress at work
If left unaddressed, these issues can magnify. Therefore, it’s imperative for managers to know how to recognise the early signs of stress and integrate stress management tactics and strategies into everyday management.They could start with organising and conducting regular and informal talks with employees or performance appraisals. They could also follow the below tips to build a culture that guards against workplace stress:
Employees need to feel they have someone to talk to if they have any worries so, it’s imperative to establish an effective line of communication between the management and employees.
Unreasonable workload demands need to be spotted and stopped.
When possible, training sessions should be offered to make employees feel more in control of their working lives.
Flexible working should be considered as a way to reduce possible pressure.
Employees need to be informed and consulted on changes that are likely to affect them before they take place and they need to feel that their opinions are valued and respected.
A good work/life balance should be promoted within the company and managers should make sure employees use their full holiday entitlement and take lunch breaks.
If possible, 3rd party help could be considered - it can provide independent, expert help to both employers and employees.
All the above tips may help managers successfully deal with stress in the workplace however, it is important that businesses develop a genuinely supportive culture and managers are adequately trained to recognise the warning signs of stress and know how to communicate with employees about this.
Paying attention to employee wellbeing can only bring positive benefits to a company by keeping valued employees engaged and creating the right environment for success.