Why Employee Stress Awareness Should Be Promoted All Year Round!
What Is Workplace Stress?
Workplace stress is when people experience stress at work as a reaction to pressures and demands that are not compatible with their skills and knowledge, and that test their capacity for adjustment.
When individuals feel overloaded to the point beyond control this can have a huge impact on employee stress levels.
Being overloaded can eventually lead to burnout, which can lead to sickness, time off work, depression, and more!
Workplace stress is something to be taken very seriously as it can have a vast impact on businesses of all sizes, resulting in poor performance, loss of productivity, and high staff turnover.
Research has shown that there is a significant relationship between job stress and employee turnover. Workplace stress influences job satisfaction which then leads to employees having the intention of leaving.
What Are the Main Causes of Workplace Stress?
There is a range of things that contribute to workplace stress. Some of these include:
- Job insecurity
- Excessive workloads
- Unrealistic deadlines
- Poor management
- Long hours
- Unfulfilled job role
- Frustrating processes
- Poor autonomy
- Unwanted duties
- Lack of training
- Lack of opportunity
- Poor resources
- Unpleasant working environment
Why Is It Important To Raise Awareness About Stress?
Stress is not only a part of our lives at work, but also a part outside of work.
When individuals are stressed, whether at work or outside of work, this can hurt their productivity, performance, and work experience.
Raising awareness about stress is important to help people deal with it. The more educated individuals are about stress, the best position they’ll be in to handle it.
If individuals have an awareness of the things that cause them stress, they can start to plan around them, to prevent situations from causing them to feel overwhelmed or stressed.
Raising awareness can be done in multiple ways. Hosting wellbeing webinars or events specifically around stress can be the first step in raising awareness.
Webinars such as “Coping with stress” can provide great insight into the simple and effective things individuals can do to reduce their stress.
Employers can also raise awareness with posters, e-flyers, and meetings with stress on the agenda. Raising awareness is another great way to show support to those who may be suffering.
Why Is It Important For Employees To Manage Stress?
Stressed employees look for other jobs, take sick days, and don’t enjoy their roles.
According to the HSE, In 2020/21 stress, depression, and anxiety were responsible for a whopping 50% of all work-related ill-health.
This stat alone should provide enough evidence to show why managing employee stress is important.
There are a range of other shocking stats when it comes to employee stress
The Center for Innovative Public Health Research (CIPHR) states that:
- 1/14 UK adults feel stressed every day
- 1/5 UK adults feel stressed more days a month than they’re not
- 79% of UK adults feel stressed at least once a month
- 30% of UK adults feel stressed more than 10 days a month
- 18% say workloads make them stressed
- 8% say commuting causes them stress
- 14% state work hours as a stress factor
- 23% say that work, in general, causes them stress
Employees need to manage their stress to help keep these statistics down.
Stress can lead to health issues, both physically and mentally and therefore it should be a priority for them to manage their stress.
Whether that’s through exercise, yoga, meditation, or perhaps even booking in for a nice deep tissue massage.
How To Promote Stress Awareness in The Workplace?
IT’s important to promote stress awareness and this can be done in a range of unique and creative ways.
It doesn’t just have to be a webinar or workshop on stress, although a “Coping with Stress” webinar would be a great start.
However, it can also be focused on the things that help prevent stress such as:
- Prioritising health
- Improving Physical Wellbeing
- Work/life Balance
- On-site massage
- Managing Workloads
- Organisation skills
- Goal setting
- And more!
All of these topics above can have a direct relationship to promoting stress awareness in the workplace.
Who doesn’t love a massage? Especially if the company is paying!
Hosting a coffee morning or “lunch and learn” are also fantastic places to promote stress awareness in the workplace.
Hiring a guest speaker may provide some internal buzz and excitement, as well as provide something different for employees. It’s a great way to engage staff, provide support and educate employees.
How Can Employees Report Stress In The Workplace?
Reporting stress for an employee can be a difficult task. The person they have to report to may even be the one causing their stress, which makes the task at hand seem even more difficult.
When it comes to reporting employee stress, it’s not what you say, but how you say it.
By nature, humans don’t like confrontation, and reporting stress levels to the people that are contributing to, or causing the stress can be frightening and overwhelming.
However, below are some tips on how to report employee stress with as little worry and anxiousness as possible.
3 Ways Employees Can Report Stress In The Workplace
- Report to the manager
Talking with your manager may not be as scary as it seems.
The majority of the time we build up stress ourselves worrying about things that are outside of our control and most likely aren’t going to be as bad as we initially think.
Telling your direct manager that you’re stressed or overwhelmed due to work commitments often won’t be as bad as you think.
In Chris Voss’s negotiation book “Never Split the Difference” he talks about using open-ended questions beginning with “how” or “what” to help the other person see your point of view.
For example: How can you expect me to get this work done when I’m already overloaded?
I’m feeling stressed with this workload, how can you support me to overcome this?
Questions like these invite your counterpart to think of a solution. These will not work all the time, but it’s a great start in alerting your manager that you’re stressed.
- Report to the HR department
This solution only works if your company is large enough to have an HR department.
However, the point of this section is to highlight that the situation needs to escalate.
If you have spoken with your direct manager and nothing has been done to help support you through your workplace stress, then you need to escalate it.
You are well within your right to do this, but depending on the relationship with your manager, you may want to nudge them before going above them.
Employers must assess the level of risk to an employee’s health due to stress.
Using a risk assessment template is a step in the right direction toward managing stress at work.
- Report to the HSE
If your company isn’t fulfilling its duty of care, you’re well within your rights to report them.
Employers have a legal duty to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of their employees and stress falls within this remit.
Reporting externally should be a last resort option. If your employer isn’t taking your health concerns seriously, then it may be wise to look for other career opportunities.
After all, who wants to work for a company that doesn’t care about their health concerns?
Tyler Lowe – Health & Wellbeing Speaker
BSc Sport & Exercise Rehabilitation