Tackling stress and mental health in the workplace
As today is National Stress Awareness Day (2nd Nov), it seemed a great opportunity to share with you simple ways to help tackle stress in the workplace.
Stressed employees can have a negative impact on your organisation. And, if not addressed in good time, it can easily turn into a mental health problem.
Much has been written about stress and mental health in the workplace and how both topics, in most companies, are still taboos. Employees don’t feel comfortable about opening up with their line manager or HR because of the stigma surrounding the subject. They mainly fear about the impact this could have in their careers and potential chances for promotion.
According to recent research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in July 2016, only 43% of employees have disclosed their stress of mental health issues to their employer. That means that more than half of employees who have experienced stress or mental health issues, kept it to themselves, which is very worrying.
It’s paramount to implement measures to help staff deal with stress before it becomes a mental health issue. This should be incorporated to your wellbeing strategy and then communicated effectively to your workforce.
Here are 5 simple ways to help prevent and reduce stress in the workplace:
- Flexible working – It’s important that your employees have a good lifestyle balance in order to feel happy at work. Allowing them to start early to finish early, or vice versa, is a great way to do that. Also, letting them work from home now and again to suit personal commitments will go a long way.
- Educate them – Most people struggle to concentrate at work when they are experiencing personal problems. Recent research from the CIPD revealed that money worries is one of the top three causes of stress in workers’ lives (22%). Employees who face financial challenges, generally will not be able to perform their best at work. Therefore, if you can, try to make sure that financial education forms part of your overall wellbeing strategy.
- Encourage breaks – This is a very straight forward point. How many employees in your company spend their lunch “breaks” at their desks trying to catch up with their workload? According to a Bupa survey in 2015, two thirds of British workers don’t always manage to take even 20 minutes for lunch. Encouraging employees to get out into the fresh air for a walk and take a proper break from work can result in a healthy, happy and more productive workforce.
- Offer benefits to improve their health – You could see a reduction on absenteeism levels and an increase on staff retention by simply encouraging your employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle. So, try and offer benefits to help build a healthy and happy workforce, such as gym membership, cycle to work scheme, flexible working or simply providing free fruit each week for staff to help themselves too.
- Create an open culture – use communication and technology as a weapon to challenge stress in the workplace. The lack of effective communication at work could leave employees in the dark, without knowing what kind of support is available for them. Make sure they know about your wellbeing programme and who to approach if they decide to disclose their stress or mental health issue.
The bottom line is: employees who feel appreciated are happier, more loyal and productive.
Invest in your workforce and reap the rewards.