We’ve now come to the final series of blogs, Mental Health and Stress. To kick off the series, we introduce various concepts and representations of stress in the workplace and how it can impact your employees’ overall mental health and wellbeing.
Whilst stress is a somewhat common feeling in most people’s day-to-day life at some point in their lives, 59% of people say work is the most common cause. Don’t get us wrong: we understand that some level of stress is normal, however, once it gets to the point that you’re struggling to sleep, finding it difficult to focus and you’re unable to complete simple tasks because you’re too distracted, you have to take a step back and realise that it’s now affecting your productivity.
As an employer, you need to be able to recognise the signs of stress and how work may be a fundamental cause of it. There are various factors that contribute to work-related stress and a lot of them can be avoided – here are some of the most common causes according to a survey on UK Workplace Stress:
- 21% of employees said long working hours are the most common cause. Sometimes, busy periods can mean additional hours are part and parcel of the role, but if it’s a recurring issue that an employee is always staying late, there may be an underlying issue – whether they've had too much work to do or lack the skills required to work efficiently. Keep an eye on how long employees are working through clock-in systems.
To help support employees further, flexi-time is an option, as it gives your employees the opportunity to choose what hours they want to work and manage their time accordingly. Some may find they work better and are more productive earlier or later in the day.
- 13% said concerns about work performance were a factor. If your staff are feeling stressed about how well they’re doing at work, maybe it's because they don’t get the right kind of feedback from you. Schedule in a monthly one-to-one and let them know how they’re doing and understand how they’re feeling about their work. If they’re underperforming, dig deeper to find out why and then find a way to support them, whether that’s providing more training or considering different working patterns.
- 9% of employees said office politics. If your team isn’t getting on as well as they should be, it’s time to book in some bonding time. Whether it’s a full day out of the office engaging in team-building exercises or arranging drinks after work, getting your employees together in a fun, relaxed environment will give them the chance to put work differences aside and learn more about each other.
Again, it’s always worth finding out the root cause of the issue of why people aren’t getting on – is there a specific person causing disruption or disagreements on how different teams work? You might need to take steps to mediate the situation and ensure that every individual in your team feels happy and valued.
According to The 2018 UK Workplace Stress Survey by Perkbox, the numbers on stress can be quite shocking…
- Only 9% of employees say they have ‘never’ experienced work-related stress.
- 45% of UK employees say that there is no support at work to help reduce stress levels and improve mental health.
- Only 8% of employers offer a counselling service to their staff and 6% offer stress management training.
- 65% of people suffer from sleep loss when stressed.
Whilst you can take active steps to prevent work-related stress from happening, you need to know the key signs to look out for within your team.
- Do your employees have a short temper?
- Are they avoiding interaction with their colleagues?
- Is there a significant change in their behaviour?
- Are they unorganised and unable to multitask?
- Have they shown an increase in absenteeism?
We have to reiterate – feeling stressed at work is common for many employees at some point in their career, often it’s the nature of the job. However, as their employer, you should monitor the situation in the office and look out for the more severe signs of stress and question whether it’s affecting their work. Once you’ve identified this, you can then map out a plan to support them.
Don’t forget to look out for the next blog in our series that discusses the key steps to solving workplace stress.