Five ways you could tackle workplace stress in your business

A little bit of pressure in people’s work lives is generally a good thing. It creates a sense of urgency to get things done, can push people out of their comfort zone to achieve more than they thought possible of themselves, plus it makes life a little more interesting.

Pressure is good, but when it gets too intense, it can transform into stress, and over time this is not so good.

First off, it is unpleasant for anyone experiencing it. The knock on effects, though, can be damaging for your business, and cause further harm to employees and those around them.

April is Stress Awareness Month and Health and Safety Executive statistics show that 17.1 million working days were lost to stress in 2023. With that in mind we are looking at how to spot the signs of stress and five effective ways you can manage it in your business.

The impact of stress at work

The effects of too much stress at work can be wide-ranging. The following kinds of problem from an employee could indicate that you have an underlying issue with stress in your business:

  • Performance issues such as errors, loss of motivation and forgetfulness.
  • Increased conflict like personality clashes or grumpiness, even bullying.
  • Tiredness, frequent headaches and other physical ailments.
  • Behavioural changes like excessive alcohol consumption, scruffy appearance or hygiene issues.
  • Poor time-keeping or absenteeism.

Some of these may spark your disciplinary process, but recognising where stress is the root cause will help prevent problems repeating themselves, either with the employee in question or others who face similar pressures.

Advice for tackling stress in your business

If any of the above issues sound familiar, there are many good management practices and ideas that you can adopt to get on the front foot.

1. Introduce new training

New training initiatives could help your business at a number of levels. You could target training at line managers to help them look out for stress and respond appropriately. You could offer personal resilience training to your wider workforce to help them cope better with the pressures they face.

Appointing and training a mental health first aider in your business is an increasingly popular option. Their role is to spot the early warning signs of mental health troubles and help people find the help they need before they are overwhelmed.

We have a variety of in-house training solutions on offer, so please ask if you are interested.

2. Conduct a staff survey

Asking people directly about matters that concern them can provide heaps of useful information on which you can act, and a stress survey exploring the causes is no different. It may help to give them the option for it to be confidential, and you’re sure to be able to draw a line between positive pressure and negative stress, what needs addressing and what’s to be taken with a pinch of salt.

3. Perform a stress risk assessment

You’re probably already familiar with performing risk assessments in your business. If you don’t yet do one for stress this could be a useful exercise, perhaps following on from a staff survey. Given that so many millions of days are lost each year to stress, laying this groundwork is a great preventative measure to minimise the impact in your business. Your risk assessment will help you determine where to put resources to reduce stress.

4. Offer an employee assistance programme

We are strong advocates of offering an employee assistance programme (EAP) as part of a benefits package. It is a low cost package per employee that offers expert helplines for a variety of issues employees could face, including legal issues, counselling and… stress. It’s perfect for helping staff overcome adversity which either would not be addressed or would take up time from busy line managers.

5. Flexible working options

Flexible working is not right for every business and will not be a silver bullet for every case of stress, but it may be a useful tool to consider, depending on the root causes of stress. It doesn’t necessarily mean working from home, and could simply be an adjustment to start and finish times to accommodate school runs, or another change to working patterns.

Need extra help?

If stress has been a problem for people in your business and you would like to come up with a plan, please reach out to The HR Dept experts. Or if there is a specific solution that we have mentioned above which you would like to find out more about, just ask.

Dafferns HR is a strategic alliance between Dafferns and The HR Dept

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