What is Stress?
Stress can establish itself in many ways, both physically and emotionally. Symptoms are wide-ranging but can vary from physically feeling poorly from ‘headaches, muscle tension or pain’ to the mental symptoms which can include, but are not limited to, ‘worrying, feeling overwhelmed or difficulty concentrating.’ (NHS).
Individuals can turn to vices to try and alleviate the stress they feel, often with the over-consumption of alcohol and, in some cases, recreational drugs. These vices are not the way forward in combating or reducing stress however, and it is important to note that stress is a natural response and, in some cases, can be viewed positively. According to the Rethink Mental Illness organisation, ‘It can motivate you to take action and get tasks completed. It can also make you feel alive and excited.’ However, when the stress builds up and begins to impact daily life, that’s when it needs to be addressed.
Impact of stress within the Workplace
The impact of stress should be on an employer’s radar, whether they work at a multi-million-pound business or on a smaller scale with perhaps only a handful of employees. If noticing shifts in behaviour or a change to their normal standard of work and acting on it, it can help reduce the possibility of long-term stress, and possibly burnout.
The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel Development) state that ‘occupational stress poses a risk to businesses and can result in higher sickness absence, lower staff engagement and reduced productivity.’
Remaining forward-thinking, as an employer is important when it comes to monitoring for stress. CIPD state that ‘Ideally employers should approach stress management proactively, focusing on prevention and early intervention, and not just responding when a problem becomes significant or when someone goes on sick leave.’
How can stress levels be reduced within the workplace
According to Mental Health UK, ‘only the person experiencing stress can determine whether its present and how severe it feels.’ Therefore, employers should have the tools in place to help them navigate what can be an emotional time. There are many charities and organisations that offer advice and guidance, such as HSE, CIPD, the NHS and Mental Health UK. Through these channels, there are access to toolkits and resources, such as The Mental Health Work Commitment, via the charity Mind.
The stigma attached to stress may be hindering employees from speaking out but making sure the workplace is a comfortable and open environment will help, as according to the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) ‘Many workers are unwilling to talk about stress at work, because of the stigma stress has. But stress is not a weakness and can happen to anyone.’
Prevention is key, and one way to ensure a company is abiding by the law and stay forward thinking in its approach is to run risk assessments. Examples can be found via HSE.gov.uk.
In addition, by focusing on National Stress Awareness Day, on the 2nd of November, the theme of which, for 2022, is Working together to build resilience and reduce stress, employers can use this date as an opportunity to open the channels of communication for their staff, offer training opportunities and raise awareness of appropriate stress management and support.
To know more check Joyful Living stress management services page