In fact, according to a study carried out by the Mental Health Foundation, 42% of UK adults say they are still experiencing anxiety about the pandemic. As a result, employee absenteeism is having a greater effect on businesses than ever before, so here are a few tips to help you understand how to identify, reduce and alleviate stress in the workplace.
How to identify stress
When an employee is experiencing stress, it can often go unnoticed by their colleagues and line manager. This is especially the case when the individual tries to hide it and doesn’t speak up, making it seem like everything’s fine when they’re actually overwhelmed.
However, there are a few warning signs that often arise in a stressed member of staff, such as:
- Reduced productivity and/or quality of work
- Limited communication or a change in tone
- Appearing tired and finding it difficult to concentrate
- Changes in behaviour, such as becoming irritable, impatient, upset or withdrawn
- Sacrificing breaks, lunch hours and annual leave in order to get more work done
There are also physical symptoms caused by stress, which can include any of the following:
- Headaches and migraines
- Aches and muscle tension
- Chest tightness and shortness of breath
- Dizziness and nausea
- Either a loss of appetite or an increase in appetite (e.g. snacking far more often)
The risk of workplace stress
Aside from the obvious factor of not wanting your employees to feel agitated, sad and powerless, workplace stress can also negatively impact the wider business:
- Reduced workflow
- More mistakes
- Missed deadlines
- Communication errors
- Low levels of morale
- Poor customer service
- Accidents and injuries that could have been avoided
- Absenteeism, ranging from the occasional day to being signed off work by a GP
How managers can support employee wellbeing
As an employer, you have a duty of care towards your employees, which includes supporting their mental health and wellbeing. Whilst it’s impossible to prevent workplace stress entirely, there are many ways to help prevent and reduce it.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Remain aware of the atmosphere in your department – if something changes, it could be that your team members are stressed.
- Make it clear that you’re available for a chat when needed, which should be offered in multiple formats such as email, phone/video call and face-to-face meetings.
- Anything your employees share with you regarding their personal wellbeing needs to be treated with respect, empathy and discretion.
- Carry out regular catch-up sessions that enable you to see how each member of staff is doing and whether they have any concerns that they’d like to voice.
- Encourage social activity, which could be anything from friendly chats during lunchtime to special events.
- Regularly analyse the efficiency of your department. If there are any obstacles or constraints, do everything possible to remove them. This will make day-to-day duties more efficient and free up time, which greatly helps to improve employee wellbeing.
- Where possible, offer employee-friendly policies such as remote working, flexible working hours, team lunches, and anything else that will make your workers feel happier and more valued.
- Book a mental health awareness training session for all staff. Mind offers a wide range of workplace wellbeing packages, including e-learning and virtual training.
Get in touch
We’re dedicated to helping employers in looking after their staff and ensuring high levels of workplace wellbeing. For tailored advice and support, please call your closest branch or get in touch through our contact form.
Posted: Thu 14 Oct 2021