How Do I Manage The Stress Levels of My Staff?
With the many changes to our lives over the last twelve months, it is more important than ever to think about the impact that work is having on your employees, and to be aware of the effects their job may be having on their mental health.
When it comes to stress, what is the problem?
In recent years, the rate of work-related stress, depression and anxiety has increased, and the last year has presented new challenges that you and your staff have never faced before.
A recent study by the Mental Health Foundation found 74% of UK adults said that they have felt so stressed at some point over the last year, that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
This doesn’t just have an adverse impact on the person affected, but also on the business they work for. Stress, depression or anxiety account for 51% of all work-related ill health cases, and 55% of all working days lost are due to work-related ill health.
If you can learn to recognise the signs of stress among your staff, it will help you take steps to prevent, reduce and manage it in your workplace.
As an employer, what should I be doing to manage stress among my staff?
As an employers, you have a legal duty to protect your employees from stress at work by carrying out a risk assessment and acting on it. The earlier a potential stress-related problem is identified and addressed, the smaller the impact it will have.
If you already have a risk assessment in place, consider whether you need to review the situation because of the changes and challenges brought about by COVID-19 and its impact on your employees.
Social distancing, working from home and all the other safeguards that have been put in place within the workplace may have either changed or created new stressors. Stress affects people differently, and what causes stress for one person may not be the same for another. Factors like skills and experience, age or disability can also affect how an employee copes with stress.
Employees usually feel stress when they cannot cope with the pressures and expectations demands placed on them at work, combined with other issues.You should match your expectations as an employer to your employees’ skills and level of knowledge.
There are six key factors for employers to consider
You should assess the risks in the following areas to help you manage stress in the workplace. If these areas are not properly managed, they are often then associated with poor health, decreased levels of productivity and increased accident and sickness absence rates.
- demands – workloads, work patterns and the work environment
- control – how much say the person has in the way they do their work
- support – encouragement, sponsorship, and resources available to employees
- relationships – promoting positive working to avoid conflict, and dealing with unacceptable behaviour
- role – whether your staff understand their role within the organisation clearly, and whether you ensure you do not have conflicting roles
- change– how business change (large or small) is managed and communicated to your staff
Author: Mark Worsnop, Health & Safety Advisor at Howarths