Though the physical well-being of workers has been regulated for some time now, employers are only just beginning to understand the importance of mental health in the workplace. If people feel comfortable in their jobs, they are much more likely to feel motivated, perform better and strive for career development. But it’s not just the employee who benefits from this positive working environment, there’s a knock-on effect for employers too. Reduced staff turnover, fewer accidents and increased operational efficiency can all be partly attributed to creating an enjoyable and positive working environment.
To help ensure your company isn’t hit by high levels of stress, and to help your team cope with the pressures of professional life, here’s a how-to guide to managing stress in the workplace.
Overview of occupational health and stress in the workplace
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there were 488,000 cases of work related stress, depression and anxiety in 2015/16, a rate of 1,510 per 100,000 workers. This level has stayed roughly the same for the past decade, indicating that businesses in the UK may need to take further steps to spot the initial signs of stress, and increase the support and guidance offered to employees displaying symptoms.
The HSE also reported that 11.7 million work days were lost to stress, depression and anxiety, with stress accounting for 37% of all work related ill health cases in 2015/16. This shows just how much stress affects the UK’s economy and should be a powerful incentive for companies across the country to address the issue and reduce stress levels in the workplace.
Spotting the signs
High levels of stress in individuals can manifest itself in several ways. Often, individuals who are under a lot of stress will become tired, depressed, anxious and withdrawn. Insomnia, mood swings and confusion are also signs of stress, especially when they’re out of character. In some cases, stress can cause physical symptoms like stomach problems and regular ill health.
In groups that are placed under a lot of stress, symptoms may include higher than normal instances of disputes, increased employee turnover, poor performance and higher levels of sickness and absences.
How to manage and relieve stress
On an individual level, people experiencing stress can take several steps to minimise its impact. Exercise is an excellent stress reliever, while colleagues should also be encouraged to talk to their line manager about high levels of stress and be made aware of any company programmes that are specifically designed to tackle pressure in the workplace.
Companies can help by running stress awareness programmes, nominating and training people in how to deal with high-pressure situations, ensuring that they take all possible steps to minimise the level of stress placed on their employees. Exercises in prioritisation, communication and proactivity are all excellent ways to equip employees with the skills needed to minimise stress at work. If your company doesn’t have a dedicated occupational health professional, employees should be directed to NHS or HSE resources and supported to get the help they need.
How employees and employers benefit from focussing on occupational health
By reducing levels of stress in the workplace, companies can boost the productivity of their employees, reduce staff turnover and minimise the number of days their team take off work. Employees who are less stressed will be happier in their jobs, more able to tackle daily challenges and more likely to achieve their full potential.
With the benefits of addressing the issue plain to see, now’s the perfect time to tackle the levels of stress in your work place and give your employees a coping strategy they can rely on. Here at Servest, employees are at the heart of the business, that’s why in 2015, we launched an annual well-being day. From holistic treatments from local therapists, to healthy recipe books from Servest’s catering division, the day allows employees to address issues and enable staff to enjoy a healthier and happier lifestyle at work and at home.
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