How Businesses can Support Work-Related Stress
Whether it’s workload, long hours or perhaps tight deadlines, there are many reasons why people experience work-related stress. Unfortunately, it’s also very common. In fact, 1 in 5 people take a day off due to stress. However, 90% of these people cite a different reason for their absence.
A survey to over 2,000 people found that workplace stress has resulted in 18% developing anxiety and 7% have even had suicidal thoughts.
So what do these heartbreaking statistics tell us? Do people not feel confident talking about stress? Are they not being given enough support from their employer? And is there anything businesses can do to help combat it?
What we have to remember is that it’s completely normal to feel stressed. It’s not weird. It’s not wrong. It’s not embarrassing. We also have to remember that high-stress levels can affect everyone in your business.
For example, if a leader within your business is experiencing stress and struggling to cope, this may not only affect the decisions they make but also the employees who report to them. Employees may notice less communication and support which could result in that employee also feeling stressed. They may feel less engaged. Less motivated. Unhappy in their job. Their change in behaviour may be noticed by your customers - your “loyal” customers. This could cause them to feel unsatisfied with the change in service levels and before you know it, they have swapped to your competitor.
The effects of one individual feeling stressed are huge. More importantly than the effects on the business, is, of course, their health. As an employer, you care about them. You want them to feel happy. You want to offer support and guidance. So what tips and best practices can you share when someone is feeling work-related stress?
Look no further, we’ve outlined some below!
Top 3 tips on dealing with stress when working from home.
1. Take regular breaks
Being stuck in the same 4 walls staring at a computer for 8 hours a day isn't exactly healthy. Encourage your team to take a “fake commute” before work such as a brief walk around the block or a trip to the shop. This will clear their mind and allow them time to prepare for their day. Throughout the day, you may wish to offer your employees more time to take regular breaks and get outside those 4 walls. Research shows that taking regular breaks has a positive relationship with wellbeing and productivity. By taking regular breaks you may also notice a boost in performance.
To encourage your team to get out and about, you could host a competition whereby the employee who walks the most steps that week wins bonus points on their employee engagement programme.
It's important that you actively encourage and support taking regular breaks. It could simply be grabbing a cuppa or sitting in the garden for some fresh air (weather permitting!) Even just walking up and down the stairs a couple of times will do the job!
2. Stay connected with the team
One of the great things about an office is the face-to-face interaction of having a conversation. When working from home, a lack of social interaction may cause employees to feel lonely which can lead to stress. By not being surrounded by a positive and energetic team, the employee may struggle to get motivated and feel as though they're not going the support they need.
It’s important to not only regularly check in with your employees, but respond to their messages quickly and efficiently and encourage them to reach out should they need anything.
Remember, it doesn't always have to be work-related! A simple “how are you today” can go a long way.
3. Stick to a routine and schedule
With the 30 second commute to their home office, many people may find themselves staying up late or lying in longer. This may result in their hours fluctuating and no longer having a routine. Not to mention their sleep pattern going out the window! Now, we're not suggesting you set your team's bedtime and alarms... but one thing you can do is encourage and help develop time management and organisational skills. This could be in the form of regular meetings or using a project board to keep track of everything. Consider having team catch-ups on Monday mornings to ensure everyone is feeling confident about the week ahead.
When your employers finish for the day, remind them to turn off their work phone or email notifications to allow their minds to switch off from work.
Top 3 tips on dealing with stress in an office environment.
1. Be open and honest
One of the most important things you can do to make your colleagues feel comfortable is to reassure them that your door is always open for a chat. Developing an approachable and honest relationship with them will build that trust and they will feel more comfortable if they ever need to talk.
2. Balance personal and work life
Many people may have the habit of working longer hours than expected. But it’s important to allow your brain to switch off, recharge and spend some time to yourself or with family. If you notice employees who are continuously staying in the office a lot longer then encourage them to call it a day! Remind them that “at the end of the day, it’s not the end of the world” and their job will always be there tomorrow. (Obviously if they’re trying to hit deadlines, you may wish to have a separate conversation about workload and time management!)
Being stressed doesn’t mean you’re not smashing your targets and doing a great job. Sometimes people are stressed because this is exactly what they are doing! Recognising those employees who are working hard and rewarding them will show them your appreciation. It will show them that you value them and their hard work isn’t going unnoticed. This could even reduce the stress they’re feeling because you’re showing your support.
Although April marks Stress Awareness Month, it’s important to be aware of how your employees are feeling all year round. The most simple thing you can do when someone is feeling stressed is show them your support. Be flexible. Be understanding. Show your appreciation. And remember, your employee's health is more important than anything. Always put that first.