The first Wednesday in November marks National Stress Awareness Day, and already the topic is trending across Twitter and other social media platforms. Chances are we all experience some form of stress from time to time, especially in the workplace, yet a lot of us fail to address this as a problem. Small stresses can sometimes grow into larger mental health problems, so it’s important that employers recognise this and take the right measures to reduce stress within the workplace.
Stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstance”. Some of us react to stress differently – you’ve heard of people that brag about “thriving under pressure” or enjoy working in a “fast-paced environment” and need to feel “challenged”, but one person’s perfect job is another’s nightmare, so make sure you are clear about what an employee can expect from each role at your company at the point of advertising a vacancy. Regardless of whether you are the type of person that enjoys a challenge or not, if you have unrealistic targets in your job, an unmanageable workload or difficulty balancing your workday with your personal obligations then you’re likely to experience stress, so it’s important that employers can recognise the signs and minimise unnecessary stress as much as possible.
There is still a huge stigma around the topic of mental health and stress, and as a result, people aren’t always likely to speak up for the fear of what their employer might say. If you haven’t already got one in place, consider setting up a wellness program with your HR team and make it clear that employees have a safe place to discuss their concerns or potential stresses of work without the fear of being judged by their managers. You need to understand the cause of the stress (either work or home related) to see if there is anything you can do to resolve the problem. This could be introducing flexible working, hiring new team members to lighten an overbearing workload, discussing employees future and progression opportunities openly, investing in additional training and support or even things like gym memberships and on-site massages. You would be surprised how much a small change can impact upon an individual, but you need to understand the cause to begin with.
Why not use #NationalStressAwarenessDay to speak to your employees and understand if there are steps you too could take to improve employee wellbeing.