Welcome to blog two of the series, Mental Health and Stress. We’ll discuss how you can support your employees through workplace stress with a 5-step process.
As we’ve mentioned in the previous blog, stress is common in most work environments and often dissipates once the main issue is resolved. However, sometimes, what can at first seem to be a minor issue, can quickly spiral to a point where someone feels consumed by stress and can no longer focus or, in extreme cases, sleep.
So, as an employer, what can you do to help and prevent this from becoming a recurring issue?
Talk to your employees and find out the root cause of stress. This will help you find an appropriate solution. The best method of doing this is to send out an anonymous survey to all of your staff, as the anonymity will encourage your employees to give honest answers.
Some questions could include:
How do you feel about your job in general?
- I am completely happy and enjoy my job
- I sometimes feel dissatisfied but generally enjoy my job
- Most of the time I don’t enjoy work
- I have no interest in my job
Regarding working relationships, do any of the following cause you problems?
- Poor relations with manager
- Poor relations with work colleagues
- Impersonal treatment
- Lack of communication from management
Collate all the results that come out of the survey and assess, asking yourself:
- Can I prevent particular issues from reoccurring?
- Is there a specific problem in one department that I can fix?
- Is it an issue that can’t be avoided but can be supported?
If there’s a specific issue that comes up frequently from different responses, you may need to approach this with more care and attention. You need to delve deeper and initiate conversations with the team to understand who has been affected by this particular issue. These don’t need to be formal – it may help to take employees out of the office on a one-to-one basis and talk to them about how they feel about work in general. Bring the specific issue into the conversation and assess how they react.
For the other issues, make a list of priorities and draw up a potential solution for each cause. You can then begin to roll out an action plan for each.
Once each solution has been trialled for a significant amount of time (over 6 months is recommended to test its effectiveness), send out a second anonymous survey with the same questions and assess the results. If you see no change, rethink the solutions. Even if you notice your solutions have had a positive result, continue to monitor the situation, as circumstances often change and not every solution works for everyone. This is where you should also keep up with regular conversations with your team – set up a monthly or quarterly chat to check in with how they feel about work so that you can judge morale and wellbeing on an individual basis, too.
Knowing what the causes of workplace stress are will help you in the long term but how do you help those who are suffering now? This is where you should introduce a stress-management course. Teach your staff how to get back in control using professional techniques, advised by experts. Often, what starts off as worrying about a small issue can escalate to anxiety and depression because your employee doesn’t know how to deal with it and therefore allows the problem to grow. You may find it useful to read resources and take advice from charities like Mind.
Now you’ve addressed the issue, found a solution and implemented a stress-management course, you need to think of the next steps to making this a preventative issue. As an employer, you can start to think about how you can create a positive working environment that actively encourages a positive mental wellbeing. Think about any wellness programmes or employee health benefit schemes that will contribute to reducing stress levels. For example, a Health Shield Health Cash Plan can help your employees to face both emotional and physical impacts of stress, with access to a range of health and wellbeing services such as counselling, a mental wellbeing app, Health Screening and much more.
Read our final blog in the series: How Health Shield can help you prevent stress in the workplace.