Unfortunately, stress has become a part of the modern world and something that a large proportion of us will experience at some point during our lives. Despite it’s commonness, it is still something of a taboo, something that many people don’t talk about. This lack of communication is helping to fuel it’s spread, unless people talk about the causes and the impact it has, on both a personal and professional level, it will continue to grow.
Technology has revolutionised the way we live, it’s also helped to blur the lines between work and home life. For some this is a positive, for others this means that the stresses of work are no longer left in the office but can now follow them home.
Stress is something that impacts your whole life, if you’re stressed at work it will impact your home life, if you’re stressed at home, it will influence your performance at work.
So what can you do as an employer to help reduce employee stress levels?
Talk about mental health – unfortunately mental health still carries with it a level of stigma, with many people being ashamed to admit they have a problem and struggling on alone. In recent years there has been more of a focus on mental health with the aim of making it ok to talk about issues, this will helpfully begin to change perceptions. As an employer you can help by making it clear that your staff can ask for help without any negative impact. Ensure everyone has time to talk about their issues and managers have time with employees so they can spot any problems before they escalate.
Leave the office behind – before smartphones and laptops working anywhere other than the office was almost impossible. You could leave your desk and leave your work behind. Today most people take their work with them wherever they go, be it checking emails of an evening and weekend or logging on to work once at home. This means people are getting less opportunity to switch off, to take a break, which will all impact on employee stress levels. The French have introduced a new law. It requires companies with more than 50 employees to establish hours when staff should not send or answer emails. The aim of this is to reduce employee stress and ensure that staff aren’t working substantially longer hours than they are paid for. Here are some tips to help give your employees digital detox
Think about overall wellbeing – many organisations, especially larger ones, have official wellbeing programmes that focus on the mental and physical health of their employees. If you don’t have one, or the resources available then there are many organisations, such as Joyful Living that provide services designed around improving employee wellbeing. From chair based massages and office yoga to help relax and focus to more detailed stress management workshops, these will all have a positive impact on your employees.
What comes out, not what goes in – it happens time and time again, those that are in first and out last every day are seen as dedicated, hardworking and loyal employees and rewarded accordingly. But, just because someone is at their desk it doesn’t mean they’re working. They could be surfing the net, researching their next holiday or watching something on YouTube. Focusing on results, not hours spent at desks. Reward those employees with the biggest sales figures, that produce the most effective marketing campaigns, that resolve the most IT issues… Not just those that are in the office from 8-8…
Be flexible – causes for stress are numerous, for some it might be the level of work or people in the office, for others it might be caused by their home life. Allow for some level of flexibility within your organisation. Something simple as changes to start and finish time to accommodate childcare or adjusting workloads and areas of responsibility to stop anyone being overloaded can all help.