This week it’s National Stress Awareness Week and although stress can occur at any point, with Christmas coming up, and deadlines approaching, it’s a good opportunity to think about stress levels in the workplace and how that may be affecting staff wellbeing. A recent survey by YouGov found that 74% of people have felt so stressed that they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope, at some point in the last year.
Stress can be caused by all sorts of things but often the workplace can be a major contributing factor, which if ignored can lead to can lead to further or more serious mental health problems.
Whether an employee is stressed because of work or issues outside of work, there are several things you can do to make sure coming to work is not a stressful experience.
Create a supportive and open environment
Being able to speak to a manager, or designated champion about mental wellbeing can help identify problems early on. Managers should have regular catch-ups with employees to check specifically on their wellbeing, touching on anything that may be causing stress in the workplace, or outside of work that might be affecting them. Putting resources in place such as an Employee Assistance Programme can also be a good way for employees to seek help without disclosing to a manager if they do not feel comfortable to do so.
Implement flexible working
Flexible working can help employees to organise their working hours to suit their lifestyles, reducing stress outside of work, and helping to create a healthy work-life balance. Being flexible in this way will increase productivity as well as workplace wellbeing.
Provide information about stress
Signpost to useful information and tips about stress, such as Mind’s information pages and guide to managing stress, and also the Health and Safety Executive’s information on work-related stress. These resources are also useful for employers to learn more about how to recognise and reduce stress in the workplace.
Put specific plans in place
Whether or not someone is experiencing a mental health problem, a Wellness Action Plan (WAP) is a useful tool to keep track of the wellbeing of employees, and identify an issues at an early stage. This is particularly helpful to find out if an employee is feeling stressed, whether from an issue at work or elsewhere in their life. Managers can use the action plan to put practical steps in place which will ensure an employee feels supported when they aren’t feeling so great, and prevent it from escalating to a point where they feel unable to cope.
You can access Mind’s two guides to WAPs for managers and employees, which both include an interactive WAP template on the Mind website.
Socialising and teambuilding
If your workforce get on outside of the office, or have opportunities to socialise other than in the day-to-day job, they will work better together and have a higher sense of wellbeing. Arranging team socials and teambuilding activities is a great way to raise morale and reduce any tension or stress that may be brewing in the workplace.
Visit Mind’s website for more tips on how to deal with stress at work, as well as guidance on supporting employees with mental health issues.