Two fifths of companies reported an increase in stress related absences throughout 2014 and 2015. In the public sector, over half of organisations saw a rise. Time to reduce stress then!
So what’s going on? It is well known that moving house, getting married or divorced or the death of a close relative or friend all score highly on the stress monitor. But it is frightening how easily many people associate their jobs and careers with stress. Constant exposure to a cause of stress isn’t a good thing for anyone. It impacts people’s health and wellbeing and causes absences, so it’s in a business’ interests to do what they can to reduce stress in the workplace. The fewer absences you have, the more productive your workforce will be. So let’s give you some top tips on managing your employees’ stress levels in the workplace.
- Identify the stress. Regular appraisals will help you judge how employees are coping with their workload. And less formal chats will give you more of an ongoing indication. You may find body language cues useful too. Subtle changes in an employee like an eye twitch or a slight shift in behaviour could be a sign of underlying stress. In the future, could wearable tech be part of the solution? Already this one senses which of your colleagues is stressing you out, while this one keeps you ‘zenned’ throughout the day. We are sure there will be more around the corner.
- Review attendance rates. Patterns of absence could be a big indicator of someone suffering stress in the workplace. Resolving the underlying stress should make for happier employees and ultimately boost productivity.
- Flexible working? Sometimes the breaking of a cycle is all one may need to reduce their stress levels. This doesn’t just mean staff completely changing working hours. For instance, flexi desks allow staff to switch working environments daily to minimise repetition. Dealing constantly with customer complaints can make the most placid person stressed, so some time away from the front line can help too. Allowing staff to work from home, or starting later to miss rush hour can work wonders. If you think your business has the capacity to operate under flexible working, and you believe it may benefit your workforce, it may be worth giving it a go.
- ‘Flexible’ working. No, it’s not a typo! Here we’re talking about some of the simple but creative sessions or classes that employers have put on to de-stress staff, notably Yoga. With Yoga’s focus on breathing, exercise, and relaxation it’s surely the perfect formula to reduce stress, and businesses know it. Some businesses regularly run relaxation techniques and mindfulness activities. Could it work for yours?
- Get an employee assistance programme. Having access to an independent and confidential adviser to help tackle work and personal issues can make the difference between somebody repeatedly being absent, leaving the business, or staying with you and performing. If you haven’t already got one in place, make sure you read up about it, and take a look at the comprehensive service that we already have on offer.
Too much exposure to stress isn’t good, so why not give some of the above tips a go yourself. If you would like to explore any of the ideas in more detail, get in touch with The HR Dept.