Work-related stress is internationally recognised as a major challenge to workers’ health and to the overall wellbeing of an organisation. According to a study by the Trade Union of Congress, over 400,00 people suffer from stress related illnesses caused by their work every year. The reasons behind the rise in stress related problems are hotly debated; theories range from the fact that in the UK we work longer hours than ever before, to the ever increasing blur between work and life which makes it harder for people to “switch off”.
Stress can be effectively managed in the workplace through successful intervention and good management. Today marks ‘National Stress Awareness Day’, organised by the International Stress Management Association – this year’s theme is ‘Workforce Wellness’.
With combatting stress high on the agenda of both employers and employees, here’s how you can fight the feelings of anxiety and stress at work:
Get involved in stress awareness training
Managing stress in the workplace is as much about prevention as it is about coping. The more educated people are on the signs and treatments for stress, the easier it is to help those who are suffering. Companies have a range of ways they can fit in stress awareness programs into their strategies: G4S FM provides support in a number of ways, including the use of an external organisation who can provide counselling, time off work, and occupational health support. “We also hold training awareness events so that managers and supervisors can try to identify people who may be struggling,” says Duncan Short, HR director at G4S FM.
Look after your staff
A good employer should always look out for their employees, people are after all the most important part of an organization. David Whittle, CEO of Positive Response suggests that an employer should “ensure support is immediately on hand” for stressed employees working in risky environments. “By giving more instant access to the emergency services, and, better still, by preempting and preventing stressful situations from arising in the first place” Whittle says that we can reduce the number of people feeling stressed at work.
Keep your friends close
Stress relief can be found simply through talking through your problems with someone close to you. Laughing, chatting or doing a physical activity with a friend can help you rid yourself of anxieties and work through what is making you feel stressed out. “A good support network of friends and colleagues can help alleviate work problems and put things into perspective. Suffering in silence is one of the most dangerous ways of attempting to cope with work-related stresses.
“Research tells us that the biggest stress factors at work are: change, lack of control and lack of clarity. Having somebody who you can turn to for advice means that you can better understand the stress factors at play and feel less isolated.” says Anthony Bennett, co founder and director of bespoke hospitality provider Bennett Hay.
Always bear in mind…
Stress is not a weakness and is not any one person’s fault. Stress can affect all kinds of people at different times in their lives. Some stress at work is good stress and a bit of pressure can sometimes help us be more productive; it is when it becomes unmanageable that help needs to be sought.
If you’re a HR professional who is looking to build on your current workforce wellbeing plan, or if you’re entirely new to wellbeing management, take a look at the upcoming agenda for our workplace wellbeing and stress forum.
Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.