Stress is a main cause of absence in the workplace, with a study by SimplyHeath and the CIPD stating that nearly four-fifths (79%) of respondents reported some stress-related absence in their organisation over 2020. Stress can increase the risk of anxiety and depression and early intervention will help lessen the likelihood of long-term health issues.
What signs of stress might be seen?
Signs of stress can vary from individual to individual, it’s important to be aware of uncharacteristic changes in someone’s behaviour or performance. For example, becoming argumentative, aggressive, tearful, or overly sensitive. It could also manifest in an individual becoming more withdrawn or displaying physical signs of stress such as stomach problems or headaches.
It’s important to remember that we’re all different and may experience stress differently. One person may feel very comfortable with a certain level of pressure that another individual will find stressful. Our resilience to stress may alter dependent on external factors such as family or relationship issues or illness. This may change our ability to manage workplace pressure.
Workplace stress can present itself as an increase in workplace arguments, lateness, employee turnover, sickness absence or workplace complaints/grievances.
How can we support our employees?
A holistic approach will give the best opportunity to make a difference to workplace stress. Mental Health At Work have set out six standards that organisations can implement to create better mental health outcomes for employees:
- Prioritise mental health in the workplace by developing and delivering a systematic programme of activity.
- Proactively ensure work design and organisational culture drive positive mental health outcomes.
- Promote an open culture around mental health.
- Increase organisational confidence and capability.
- Provide mental health tools and support.
- Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting.
Their website has a range of useful resources for employers to utilise when implementing these into their organisations.
The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) mentions six areas that can affect stress and these should be considered when doing risk assessments and planning for mental wellbeing in the workplace.
- The demands placed on employees
- How much control they have over their job
- What support they are offered
- The strength of working relationships
- How well they understand their role, and
- How change is managed in the business.
The importance of Line Managers
Line managers are integral to an organisations ability to spot signs of stress. Training line managers to help their teams manage workloads effectively and prevent/reduce stress is key to supporting employees. There are also several external options that can be introduced to support employees such as an employee assistance programme, counselling and a number of charities which can offer guidance.
View HR would be happy to have an initial conversation about how to support your organisation in developing HR practices in relation to mental health and wellbeing.
Huge thanks to Managing Director, Gemma Murphy for sharing her insights into workplace stress and the relevant laws.
Dorset Mind offers group support that can also help with your wellbeing. The group offers peer support and helps to reduce stigma by normalizing conversations about mental health. You can also check out further support for stress and mental health here.
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Dorset Mind is a self-funded local charity that helps people in Dorset experiencing mental health problems access the vital support they need. The charity is at the very heart of our communities shaping futures, changing and in some cases literally saving lives.