April is stress awareness month so how aware are you?
With the public’s general shift in attitude towards mental health, now has never been a better time to look at the variety of ways that stress at work can impact on both employees and employers.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), statistics show that 12.5 million working days were lost in 2016/17 due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety resulting in 40% of all work-related ill health cases and 49% of all working days lost due to ill health.
Workload pressures, including tight deadlines, too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support are all the main contributors to work place stress.
So, what can you do to help combat work related stress?
As an employee
- Keep a positive journal – when we are busy or stressed it is easy to focus on the things that we haven’t crossed off our ever growing to do list which can result in a lack of motivation. Write down three positive things that happened that day. It could be something as simple as finishing the report earlier than anticipated, receiving a thank you email from a client or simply being pleased with the work that you have produced. Celebrate your successes no matter how small, they will keep you motivated to keep going.
- Be confident in having boundaries – it is ok to say no. No one likes to feel that they are not being a team player, but it is ok to be honest and say no, I haven’t got the capacity to take that on right now. People are going to be more accepting of your honesty rather than you rushing the work they have given you. Explain that you haven’t got the capacity but if it can wait you can get to it next week – be honest.
- Don’t stay late – staying in the office till gone 9pm every night is not healthy. Its shows either you have too much on or that you are not managing your time well enough in the day, especially if you are the only one staying late. The odd half an hour here and there is fine, but it is important to get that work life balance.
- Schedule your day and avoid interruptions – most of us are inundated with interruptions during our working day. Whether these interruptions are colleagues with questions, emails arriving in our inbox or the phone ringing, they can add increasing pressure to our work loads. Have at least one hour per day where you make yourself uninterruptable. Turn on your Out of Office, inform your colleagues that you are not contactable for an hour and switch the phone to voicemail. Have an hour where you can concentrate fully on the task at hand. You will be surprised out how much you can get through.
- Talk – it is always important to talk. If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed by your workload, the working atmosphere or the security with your job role (which are the main causes for workplace stress) then talk to your supervisor or Manager. They will support you and put things in place to come up with a plan to help reduce the pressures. Chances are if you are feeling stressed, you won’t be the only one.
As an Employer
- Spot the signs – as an employer you have a duty of care and it is important that you are constantly aware or your staff and how they are feeling. If employees are feeling a new level of stress you will often see changes in both their behaviour and their health. The most common signs of stress are muscular tension, heart palpitations, mood swings and stomach upsets. If you spot any of the above changes then act early, ask them if they are ok and if they need any support. By having these welfare conversations staff feel valued and you can potentially prevent a situation from developing.
- Set a good example – if as a Manager or business owner you are constantly staying late and taking on too much, it can make employees feel that that is what you need to do to progress. Promote holidays by taking annual leave yourself, ensure that you take lunch breaks and have a healthy work life balance, this will encourage your teams to do the same.
- Reward and Value all staff – employees don’t mind doing above and beyond on occasions but make sure that you make a point of thanking and rewarding staff for staying late to get that final report submitted or coming in early to meet with a client. A simple thank you goes a long way.
- Be available – it is important for managers to be approachable and that staff feel that they can come to you for support. Have a one team approach.
If you have questions or concerns about managing stress in your workplace, talk to us today.