Workplace stress continues to be a prominent issue for many businesses across the UK. In fact, our Flux Report research launched earlier this year found that 46% of HR directors reported an increase in employee fatigue and disengagement. This National Stress Awareness Day (5th November), we’re encouraging employees to think about ways that they can deal with stress in the workplace and offer the following advice to individuals looking to effectively manage their stress levels at work:
- Think objectively about your reaction to stress – Firstly, it’s important to recognise the difference between stress and distress; consider what is simply a ‘challenging’ time and when this changes to having a significant impact on your emotional and physical wellbeing. Then think about how you handle these situations. When under pressure, individuals’ typical reactions can change considerably. It’s helpful to identify the sorts of situations where your stress levels start to get out of control so you can understand how and why you typically respond and how you might amend your response to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Separate challenges into what you can and can’t control – Unfortunately, we can’t win all our battles but we can put our energy towards those which are within our control. Focussing your energy where it is going to be most effective is the best thing you can do to avoid becoming overwhelmed by factors that you have no power over.
- Set manageable goals and stick to them – The trick is not to take on too much work at a time. Taking on tasks that you don’t have the ability to complete can be daunting and can quickly become an added pressure that you simply don’t need whilst at work. Only take on tasks that you know you will be able to achieve and push back on work that is only going to create more stress.
- Learn how to think positive –The past few years has been turbulent for the UK jobs market, it’s no wonder employees have lost enthusiasm and begun to think more negatively. However, it’s important to focus your energy on high points and think positively in order to approach challenges with a winning mind-set. Using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques can help to manage your problems in a more positive way.
- Learn how to communicate under pressure – Often, in high-pressure situations, stress builds and communication between employees becomes shorter and more direct – especially over email. It’s important to note that managers are carriers of stress – if you are a leader within an organisation be aware of how you might be coming across to your team members as you may be bringing down morale. Having dignity in the workplace is really important. Think about ways you can keep negative thoughts in check or at least ‘vented’ using the appropriate channels.
- Learn how to manage your time – In many cases, employees are working a lot longer hours than they are contracted to do so. Yet working longer hours can actually be counter-productive. Simple steps like completing key tasks that you may not enjoy first thing in the morning, can help you to manage your to-do list effectively.
- Have a buddy at work – Often it is helpful to have someone to help us diffuse our pressure levels or when the strain is starting to show or manifest itself. Identify a colleague or team member in tune with you and your work and find ways to give each other support, encouragement and when it is called for, a helping hand. This helps to share the load and thus make it a ‘we’ situation vs a ‘me’ issue.
- Health and wellbeing – There is a clear link between good general and physical health and resilience. Regular exercise, good quality sleep, a healthy diet are all positive contributors to coping better with stress. If your employer offers programmes that support their workforce it is worth looking into these and taking advantage of what’s available – there are so many things to be gained, including coping with stress techniques, and for information on making healthy lifestyles choices.
Jayne Carrington, Managing Director of Right Management Workplace Wellness