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.
In 2020, the most common cause of stress was work-related. Understandably, the pandemic had a lot to do with this. There were issues around job security, financial stability and of course – cabin fever.
A survey to over 2,000 people found that workplace stress has resulted 18% developing anxiety and 7% have even had suicidal thoughts.
So what do these terrifying statistics tell us? Do they say that people don’t feel confident talking about stress? Are they not being given enough support from their employer? And is there anything we can do to help combat it?
We’re in this together
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 every area of your business.
For example, if a leader within your business is experiencing stress and struggling to cope, this may not only affect decisions they make but also the employees who report to them. Employees may notice a lack of communication and support which could even result in the 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. They then may 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 and this is why providing support and guidance is essential. More importantly than the effects to the business, is of course their health. As an employer, you care about them. You want them to feel happy. So what tips and best practices can you offer when someone is feeling work-related stress?
Look no further, we’ve outlined some below!
Top 3 tips on dealing with stress whilst working from home1. Take regular breaks
Although some people may be loving the short commute to work, others may be struggling to find a good personal / work life balance. Being stuck in the same 4 walls staring at a computer for 8 hours a day simply isn’t healthy! Encourage your team to take a “faux commute” such as a brief walk before the day starts or even a trip around the block in the car. This will clear their mind and allow them time to prepare for their day. Throughout the day, offer your employees more time to take regular breaks. Encourage them to go for walks to stretch their legs. You could even do a step competition whereby the employee who walks the most steps wins something. Encourage them to grab a cuppa and sit in the garden for some fresh air. Even just walking up and down the stairs a couple of times will do the job!2. Stay connected
As mentioned earlier, many people have been experiencing cabin fever. When someone is confined to a space with lack of social interaction they begin feeling lonely. Their motivation levels may drop, they feel tired and even stressed. It’s important to regularly check in with your employees. A simple “how are you today” can go a long way.
3. Stick to a routine and schedule
With the 30 second commute to the office, many people may find themselves staying up late. This may result in their hours fluctuating. Also normal business processes may no longer be appropriate which results in a more frenetic approach.
Encourage your employees to use their organisation skills they would normally use in the office. Having catch-ups with key stakeholders and setting time aside for important tasks are simple time management skills. Consider having team catch-ups on Monday mornings to ensure everyone is feeling confident on 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 when offices reopen1. Be open and honest
Many of us have spent over a year working from home. So when the offices reopen, some people may struggle to get back into the routine. They may feel less confident being surrounded by people. It’s important that you offer them flexibility and slowly ease them back into what they feel happy with. Remind them that we’re all in the same boat and your door is always open for a chat.
2. Balance your personal and work life
Many people will have got into the habit of working longer hours. 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 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 employees health is more important than anything. Always put that first.