The steps to create a workplace culture that manages stress

A charity has outlined the four steps businesses and HR departments can take to ensure their office has a healthy workplace culture where employees feel safe enough to ask for help.

Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association (CABA), the charity supporting the wellbeing of chartered accountants and their families gives its four steps:

  • Talk about mental health openly in the office

“Having an open and clear dialogue will create a culture of trust among not just employees and their seniors, but also within teams. Companies that endorse and cultivate networks that support mental health may also see positive changes in the number of sick days, and a higher level of productivity as their employees are less likely to suffer from built-up pressures and stresses, thanks to the ability to discuss their issues and receive suitable support from the outset.”

  • Solution-focused and collaborative approach

“Employers and employees need a framework that promotes a solution-focused approach. This should provide opportunities to identify difficulties stemming from workplace factors and discuss ways of managing and implementing reasonable, time-limited adjustments. These could be things such as demands, control, support, relationship, role and change.

“This framework enables individuals and teams to feel included and gives them a voice when considering effective adjustments at work. More importantly, it’s not designed to be a punitive process but provides a space where all parties can move potentially difficult circumstances forward.”

  • Promotion of support strategies

“We know that early intervention is key when supporting employees who may be experiencing difficulties and that it helps them to recover more quickly and stay at work. An open conversation is an ideal opportunity to talk through the various support mechanisms your workplace promotes. This could include counselling and occupational health services to flexible working opportunities and information on any training courses you offer to increase personal confidence and skills-based competency. It will also help you to reassure employees that it’s OK to use these services and how effective they can be.”

  • Early intervention

“If you notice an employee whose performance is dropping and whom you might be concerned about, it’s best to try to identify any workplace issues that may be driving difficulties or exacerbating them. Even if an individual’s difficulties are coming from other areas of their life, it’s appropriate to make effective, reasonable adjustments to reduce any unnecessary pressure on them at work. One thing is certain, situations often don’t resolve themselves in isolation and a proactive, supportive approach may just avoid lengthier periods of absence.”