24 March 2020
Not only do you, as an employer, have a legal duty to protect your employees from stress at work, it is in your best interest.
How can we define stress?
Health & Safety Executive (HSE) define stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them.’ Stress cannot be defined as an illness, but it can make you ill. With that said, there is a clear difference between pressure and stress. Pressure can be stimulating whereas stress is overwhelming.
Why is tackling stress so important?
A staggering 59% of UK employees feel stressed because of their job and more than one in ten say that stress causes them to take sick days from work (Perkbox Workplace Survey, 2018).
If you want to get the most out of your employees and have a great working culture, preventing and tackling stress should be high on your priority list. If ignored, you can be left with the following consequences:
- poor productivity from your employees and more human errors
- increased accidents, sickness/absences
- a higher staff turnover which has financial ramifications
According to HSE, 12.5 million working days were lost as a result of work-related stress, anxiety and depression in 2016/17.
How do I know if my employees are stressed?
There are some things you can analyse in order to tell if your employees are highly stressed:
- Look out for arguments
- Look out for performance decrease
- Track employee absenteeism
- Track employee turnover
Of course, these things can be caused by other factors or a combination of things but keeping an eye on performance and absenteeism can be a good starting point.
How do I tackle stress in the workplace?
You have various options when trying to prevent or tackle stress in your workplace as outlined below:
Talk to your employees
Create a culture where your employees can raise concerns and don’t forget to action these concerns. Employees could be stressed due to a lack of equipment or even a bad working environment. The best way to find out how to help them is to simply ask their thoughts.
Implement an employee well-being programme
This could be as basic as having one to one meetings with your staff to discuss current worries/problem areas. You could also introduce benefits such as reduced gym costs, vouchers for money off massages or a healthy food delivery service.
Introduce flexible working
This is a great way to help your staff manage a work-life balance and reduce stress. Where flexible working is not suitable, consider having an earlier finishing time once a week.
Implement management standards
This approach is a preventative process for managing the risks to your employees from work-related stress. The management standards cover 6 key areas that are the primary sources of stress at work. You don’t have to use this method but doing so will ensure that you evidently meet your legal duties.
If you do choose to implement this approach, you must ensure that the resources, support and infrastructure are in place.