As an Employer, you will have been bombarded with information relating to stress in the workplace. Stress is caused – not only by work – but also personal circumstances such as divorce and death in the family. We also know that there is a fine line between experiencing a challenge and coming out feeling stronger, and feeling stressed, anxious and overwhelmed. It can affect anyone at anytime – even you!
Mind reports that Stress at Work costs the UK economy £100bn per year. As an Employer, are you aware of the financial impact stress has on your business?
Increased Sickness Absence
Whilst absence due to stress and mental ill-health is becoming more common, doctors believe that 80% of illnesses can be linked to the effect of stress. Long-term exposure to stress can lead to hypertension and increased risk of heart disease. However, even in the short term the immune system can be compromised by stress, leaving your employees vulnerable to colds and other viruses. This leads to increased absence and increased cost in covering their work whilst they are away from the office.
Even temporary stress can cause disruption in memory and concentration as your employee’s nervous system is primed to get them out of the perceived danger zone. Understandable, until a lapse in concentration leads to a mistake that costs time and money to put right or a less-than-enthusiastic response leads to poor customer service and complaints. As many as 33% of employees report sleepless nights due to stress, the resulting tiredness can lead to poor performance and even accidents in the workplace. Over time, stress can kill brain cells making it harder for employees to retain information such as instructions and training.
You lose valuable staff.
Employees are now acutely aware of how stress can impact on their health and life, and this generation of employees are demanding a better work/life balance from employers. This is not just about leaving the office at a decent hour, but about the quality of life outside of work. Employees are less likely to enjoy their work if they are constantly worrying about their workload in their downtime or having to work late to catch up. Eventually, something has to give. Soon your employees are heading off to competitors who can offer them a better life balance. This leads to recruitment costs, and costs of training or cover to complete the work. Even your customers can soon be troubled by a high turnover of your staff and leave, leaving a very obvious dent in your profits.
So what can we do about it?
The sad fact is that once your employees experience stress, their brains become hardwired to react in certain ways, meaning that they repeatedly experience stress when faced with the same situation. Fortunately there three easy ways you can help your employees tackle stress and have them back to enjoying their work.
Fix the Workplace Leaks.
Sources of stress at work can include lack of clarity on job roles and responsibilities and an overwhelming workload. Whilst any changes may not occur overnight, you can start taking action today. This may involve working with staff to draw up clear job descriptions, lines of reporting and ensure all policies are in a staff handbook. You can look at reducing workload by making the workplace as efficient as possible – for example using templates for letters, or using the latest technology to assist workers. Of course, it is just as important to make sure that employees use their lunch breaks for downtime and go home at a reasonable time.
Recognise their efforts.
When you are seemingly fighting fires in the business, it is easy to fall into a habit of only giving feedback on any areas of concern. As a result, staff can be left feeling that they cannot do anything right and their hard work is unappreciated. Recognition can be as simple as thanking them for a job well done, to more tangible rewards such as bonuses, awards and additional benefits.
Increase their Resilience.
Reducing stress comes directly from working to increasing resilience to its effects. Various mental health charities recommend that taking a holistic approach to managing stress can counter impact of stress on an employees health and build their immunity to stress in future. This means taking steps to be physically active, by practising self care by indulging in interests outside of work and building a strong social network of support. In the workplace, providing access to gyms and organising team outings can be a good start in helping employees maximise their downtime.
However, did you know there is a simple Employee Wellbeing package which can reward your staff, increase their resilience to stress and help them maximise their work life balance with zero risk to you? Click here to find out more.