Work related stress is often referred to and there has been an increase in people feeling stressed in their work environment over the past century. Our society has become much more frantic and people are struggling to fit everything into their busy lives.
The HSE have provided the following definition of work-related stress: the adverse reaction that people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work. (HSE).
Our overall mental health and wellbeing is intricately linked to stress and our ability to manage it. If an individual is able to cope with their home and work pressures and it provides them with a meaningful sense of wellbeing then they are considered to have a positive state of mental health and stress is unlikely to have a negative impact. However, where the opposite occurs we know that stress can be very damaging and some of the consequences to our mental health can be long term.
Statistics from the HSE confirm that in 2019/20 there were 828,000 workers suffering from work related stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing) and a total of 17.9 million working days were lost due to work related stress, depression or anxiety. This is an increase of almost 5 million days lost when compared with the 2018/19 data. The pandemic will certainly have had an impact on these figures, however the reality is work related stress, depression and anxiety in the workplace is a prevalent issue in the UK and must be addressed.
When it comes to delivering work objectives and doing so to a high standard some people become stressed with the strain and pressures of their work. For some they become overwhelmed with the volume of work tasks they are required to complete for others it can be outside influences which affect their ability to perform at work and subsequently experience stress.
No doubt work related stress is a common feature in most workplaces so should we just accept work related stress as being a normal part of our daily lives or can we actively do something to relieve work related stress for us and our employees?
As an employer you have a duty of care to protect the health, safety, and welfare of your employees. In turn employees have a responsibility to manage their own health and to access support available to help them cope with and manage stress. Both parties should be actively assessing the risk of stress-related poor mental health arising from work activities and take measures to control that risk.
Although avoiding work related stress completely is unlikely to be achievable there are certain things, we can do to help relieve workplace stress and to manage better. Some top tips shared through the NHS website include the following:
- Being Active
- Taking Control
- Connecting with People
- Having Some ‘You Time’
- Challenging Yourself
- Avoiding Unhealthy Habits
- Helping Others
- Working Smarter Not Harder
- Being Positive
- Accepting The Things You Cannot Change
Even if you select just one of the above stress relievers to focus on each week it will improve how you handle stress and help relieve work related stress to an extent. Actively talking to employees about stress and having time to discuss this during team meetings or 1 to 1 meetings will flag the issue and provide solutions.
Stress Risk Assessment
If stress for a certain employee is becoming a real cause for concern you could also seek to complete a stress risk assessment with them. This is a tool that will help identify the key triggers of stress so you can explore any reasonable adjustments that could be put in place to manage this. To support you with this activity the HSE have produced a stress risk assessment template, which you can access by clicking here.
Do you have a Stress Policy?
Another great way to effectively communicate with your employees about how you manage work related stress is to have a Stress Management Policy. This can be shared with employees so they understand what action you take as an employer to support them at work and to protect their mental health. If this is something you don’t have then it is worth considering as it is beneficial to both you as an employer and to the employee. It promotes consistency and clarity and gives you both a point of reference when working through different cases where stress exists.
There is no magic pill that will fix work related stress for the long-term but making active attempts to tackle stress step by step will go some way towards reducing it.
Your employees might not even recognise when they are stressed so when you think they might benefit from a chat perhaps share with them some of these stress busters. By doing this they can start to actively manage stress for themselves too.
Should you require any support regarding this topic then please contact us for a no obligation chat.
The Nursery HR People.
01509 833 121
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