Featured Guest Blog: Stress at Work
While some workplace stress is normal, excessive stress can interfere with your employees’ productivity, performance and impact with their physical and emotional health.
It can even mean the difference between success and failure in their job and have a detrimental effect on the success of your business.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in 2014/15, 440,000 people in the UK reported work-related stress at a level they believed was making them ill. That’s 40% of all work-related illness. Psychological problems, including stress, anxiety and depression, are behind one in five visits to a GP. Some pressure at work can be motivating, but when it becomes excessive it can eventually lead to work-related stress.
Stress is “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures and demands placed on them”, according to the HSE. Stress symptoms include a pounding heart or palpitations, a dry mouth, headaches, odd aches and pains and loss of appetite for food and sex.
The main reasons given for work stress include work pressure, lack of support from managers, changes to working practices, changes to location or team, and work-related violence and bullying. The way an individual deals with stress can lead to unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking and drinking too much, which might increase their risk of heart disease. These behaviours in turn can lead to other disciplinary issues and can affect other employees in their roles. Therefore, it is always best to identify and resolve the problems as quickly as possible.
An employee’s stress can be an accumulation of many different things including money, personal or family issues: the addition of having problems at work added to everything else going on in their lives can become too much for the employee to deal with. If the problem is not work-related, you may be able to support your employee in some way by offering counselling support or help to take some pressure off them at work assisting them to resolve the stress in their personal life. By helping your employee over how they can recognise the physical effects of stress, and the need to do something about it before it makes them ill then this will benefit both them, as an individual, and to you as their employer.
There are steps you can take as an employer to protect yourself from the damaging effects of stress in the workplace and improve your employees’ job satisfaction and productivity.
Good stress management in the workplace is critical to your employees’ overall health. One of the key skills to managing workplace stress is recognising when an employee is overworked or “Stressed”.
Some signs to look out for:
- The person who always seems to be at work, they are first in and last to leave.
- They are always willing to take on tasks.
- Is it easier to just ask them to do the job as you know they will not say no.
- Demands made on employees;
- The level of control your employees have over their work;
- The support employees receive from managers and colleagues;
- The clarity of an employee’s role within the organisation;
- The nature of relationships at work; and
- The way that change is managed.
Have you looked for these traits? These signs need to be recognised and dealt with.
Are your managers trained in how to recognise these symptoms’?
To tackle work-related stress here at LBJ Consultants we would advise employers to focus on the four factors that often determine the nature of the relationship between employers and employees:
- Policies: The policies and procedures your company have in place for managing the workplace such as written policies for absence, discipline and stress etc.;
- Behaviour: the way that these policies are implemented and the way your employees behave within these procedures;
- Regular 1:1 meetings with your employees where youcan identify any issues quickly;
- Counselling Service: offer your employees the opportunity to speak with someone in confidence.
A good employer will always encourage their employees to speak to their manager or someone in their organisation when they require help. We usually find when an employer should deal with this type of issue that there are more employees affected by the problem: therefore, by helping your employee deal with their stress issue you can be directly helping others in your workforce: which again will have a positive effect on productivity and the performance in your whole organisation.
Not all employers will have the time or resources to follow these guidelines, small firms may not be able to offer counselling, advice or support to employees due to limitations on time and experience. However, the principles still apply and all employers should be aware that they have a legal obligation to take work-related stress seriously and have a duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees. This is covered under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Employers are also required to conduct risk assessments for work-related stress. The Health and Safety Executive have the power to act against employers who do not take steps to reach the required management standards.
If we can help your company deal with this or any other employee issue, please call us on 0141 319 8191 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
LBJ Consultants Limited
Director/Employment Law Consultant