Supporting employees in stress management is a vital role for businesses. Employees who feel low levels of stress are likely to perform better in their position and take fewer days of absence. Also, staff turnover figures are likely to be lower.
All businesses have a legal obligation to undertake risk assessments to identify possible triggers of workplace stress. If risks are identified there is a duty to ensure those risks are then reduced.
If a risk is found, the first course of action should be to involve the staff affected by opening channels of communication. Together, a stress management plan should be devised which covers:
- What problem the problem is, and how this was identified
- A proposed solution
- A clear idea of actions to be taken for the solution with signposted dates as to when the different steps will be achieved
- A date for the process to be reviewed
There will, however, be times when employees may not always feel confident about discussing workplace stress with their employer. Being able to spot signs of workplace stress in your workforce may help to preempt future problems. So what changes should you look out for?
- Changes in workplace performance
- Changes in physical appearance
- Changes in behaviour and mood
- An increase in absence
Talking to the employee as soon as possible after noticing these changes is vital. Understanding a problem will enable you to find solutions to the problem. It will also promote a positive approach to issues of mental health in the workplace. This is likely to significantly increase the chance of other employees feeling confident enough to discuss their worries and concerns.
Having a flexible approach to making workplace adjustments is likely to be an effective way of reducing workplace stress and introducing positive stress management techniques. The modifications that you make will be dependent on the individual needs of the staff members and on the business itself. Adjustments may include changes to the work schedule, alterations to an employee’s role and responsibilities and adaptation to the working environment. It may also involve changes to the policies within the company.
As always, prevention is better than cure, and there are things you can implement in your company which could have a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of your staff.
Exercise and good physical health are fantastic weapons against stress, anxiety and depression. Encourage your staff to exercise – give incentives such as reduced gym memberships or offer free exercise classes before or after work. Many workplaces have vending machines or provide snacks for staff. Be the first to make a change and switch to healthier options to help promote wellness.
Here are some other questions to ask yourself:
- Is the workplace itself a positive environment?
- Is it clean and well maintained?
- Do employees have the facilities they need to complete their job comfortably?
- Is there any provision for stress relieving activities which can be undertaken on breaks?
- How well are staff recognised for good work?
- Are there any opportunities to celebrate your team and make them feel appreciated? (Schemes such as employee of the month are very effective and easy to implement!)
- Are there opportunities for staff to socialise outside of the workplace? (This is an ideal way to reduce stress, unwind after a day at work and help staff to build and maintain positive relationships with their colleagues.)
We hope that we have got you thinking about some of the positive and practical steps you can make as an employer to better support your staff in the workplace.
If you’d like to discuss any of the topics we’ve covered on mental health this week and how you can implement and develop strategies in your business, get in touch – we’d really to work with you and help you stand out as an employer who is committed to making to positive change.