In 2018 statistics into workplace stress reported that 15 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety. Stress, for many of us, feels part and parcel of everyday life, but just how much is stress costing the economy and effecting the running of businesses around the world?
Stress can be part of all your average day from the moment we wake up late due to a missed alarm, through to working overtime to meet deadlines and targets. Research into stress has frequently cited that work is one of the most common causes of stress amongst adults. In fact, one UK study showing that as low as 9% of workers feel that they never experience workplace stress and as high as 20% experience moderate-high levels of work induced stress multiple times a week.
Stress is inevitable; however workplace stress is not always a negative thing. ‘Positive’ stress can occur from the excitement of launching a new product, the anticipation of joining a new company or your relocation to an international office.
The causes of negative workplace stress
- Having a heavy workload – particularly in incidences where employees are covering another employee’s work
- Long working hours
- Being insecure about your chance of progressing or your risk of termination
- Facing discrimination or harassment at work
- No work-life balance
- Lack of support
- No recognition / reward
Although many workers find that challenges and busy schedules keep work interesting and dynamic – reducing the dull feeling of repetitiveness; one study discovered that 25% of employees struggle to be as productive at work when they are experiencing stress.
So, what advice would we give to Managers looking to tackle the difficulties associated with workplace stress?
Here are our top tips…
Be open and honest with your team when changes are happening that may affect their position or role within the company. Alongside this, giving regular feedback can be an easy stress reliever. Whether it be constructive or positive, it provides employees with support and recognition where it’s due.
2. Build good relationships with your team
Developing strong relationships with the co-workers you manage allows them to feel comfortable in expressing their worries and problems, without the fear of being ignored or belittled. Having close bonds with your team will also help you to identify when there are behavioural changes that could be stress induced.
3. Introduce activities that help to reduce stress and encourage wellness
Running workshops to help with stressful topics, such as time management and how to deal with difficult situations, offers employees support and solutions. Additionally, Scientific research has shown that organising group wellness and meditation sessions not only provides an outlet to de-stress, they can also positively impact employee activity and behaviour. Including stronger resilience, better decision-making and an improved ability to work under stressful conditions.
TOP TIP: Suggest to your team that joining a Yoga or Pilates class will help to reduce the feelings of stress– you could even run one yourself internally if you’re able to!
4. Training and mentoring
Providing proper training may seem like an obvious starting point with new staff but knowing that your team are well-equipped and confident in their roles can reduce the stress of feeling overchallenged. Following up with mentoring programmes will support your team and help them to regain control in areas where they are struggling or feeling high pressure.
5. Encouraging a work-life balance
It can be difficult to strike the right balance between professional and personal. However it’s important that you help your team to avoid burning out. Remind them of the importance of exercising outside of work as a healthy way to let off steam and release endorphins – which will in turn reduce the feelings of anxiety and depression associated with stress.
TOP TIP: Try organising a 5-a-side football team, joining a netball team with your colleagues or looking into corporate gym memberships.
It’s also crucial to encourage your team to have evening down time and get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is a powerful stress reducer and studies into the impact of sleep on job performance have shown that lack of sleep can create cognitive impairments that will give rise to stress and cause problems in the workplace. Relax. Rest. Recharge.
Keep your eyes peeled on our Youtube channel throughout April to hear more advice and discussions around the issue of workplace stress.