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Reducing Stress at the Workplace with a New Approach

30 March 2022

Work-related stress is still a pressing issue that employers need to address. A survey by CIPD shows that 79% of people have been absent from work due to stress. This number reaches 91% in organisations with over 250 employees.

While organisations are taking certain steps to reduce stress in the workplace, we wonder about how effective they are. According to the survey, only half of the respondents believe in the success of those actions.

Many organisations implement an array of initiatives to instil increased calmness in the workforce, such as more benefits, meditation classes, and bringing puppies to work. All of these are great ways to reduce work-related stress.

However, we need to adopt a new approach to the issue by looking at the core stress factors employees are dealing with and how they can be adequately addressed. As a result, your staff will be happier and more productive, helping you take your business to the next level.

The scale of stress for British employees

What is stress? HSE defines it as “the adverse reaction a person has to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed upon them”. Stress is different from pressure. The latter exists on a daily basis and acts as a motivator to perform to the best of our abilities, while stress is the accumulation of pressure from which we haven’t had the chance to recuperate.

According to CIPD,  there are  several factors that amount to work-related stress. These include unmanageable workload, poor management style, COVID-19-induced challenges and anxiety, non-work personal issues, and relationships at work.

While employers are aware of those factors, nearly one in five respondents believe that their organisation currently isn’t actively addressing them. Those organisations that are taking steps focus on implementing a range of procedures to address the issue, yet 50% of the respondents feel like the actions are ineffective.

So how can your company adopt a more effective strategy for minimising work-related stress?

A fair amount of work

59% of the respondents in the CIPD report identified workload as the number one stress factor. However, organisations seem to omit this from their efforts to minimise stress in the workplace.

Both excessive and insufficient volumes of work can take their toll on employees’ performance. Overload can result in errors and slower task performance, while underload can lead to boredom, reduced alertness, and lack of attention to detail.

Hence, an adequate assessment of the workload across the whole team is needed. Perhaps an additional hire might help take a load off overworked team members. The introduction of more tasks or the rethinking and expansion of job roles can tackle the lack of sufficient workload.

Efficient management style

32% of respondents claim that management style impacts their health and well-being, yet organisations aren’t taking it into account.

The manager is responsible for not only overseeing workload and performance but also for addressing employees’ issues, offering viable solutions, and facilitating help.. All of that is outlined in HSE’s Management Standards.

The manager’s role is also to boost the team spirit and promote unity and equality in the workplace. For example, if the job role entails workwear, it’s their responsibility to ensure adherence to the uniform standards.

Ann Dowdeswell, sales and marketing director of Jermyn Street Design, a global workwear supplier, commented: “Uniforms are vital for facilitating a healthy work environment where employees feel like they are being treated the same way by staff, management, and customers. They position all employees at the same level and reinforce equality. That’s especially important in the current landscape where race and gender inequality is still an issue.

“However, failure to adhere to uniform guidelines can have the opposite effect. It can hint at superiority, which can then bring such issues to the surface. That’s where adequate management style comes into play.”

Stress related to COVID-19Employees’ stress levels have definitely been impacted by COVID-19. The pandemic has also given rise to new challenges related to changes to the work style and environment.

COVID-19-related anxieties, such as fear of contagion, has affected 23% of respondents, and 20% reported poor work-life balance due to homeworking.

To help tackle COVID-19-related stress and adapt to the new modes of working, the British Psychological Society has proposed an approach called SHARE. The five components are the following:

  1. SAFE working through assessing and addressing risk at the workplace.
  2. HELP yourself and others through communicating and meeting needs.
  3. ADAPT to change through offering diverse workplace situations and flexible working hours.
  4. RELIEVE the pressure through helping each other cope with the ‘new normal’.
  5. EVALUATE through regularly evaluating the situation.

Factors unrelated to work

There are other stress factors that affect employees which aren’t related to work.In fact, 25% of the respondents reported that relationships and family issues can cause stress, while personal illness or health issues were a factor for 22% of those surveyed.

What organisations can implement in such situations is employee assistance programmes and psychologist sessions. A comprehensive company culture that includes workshops on mental health, meditations, yoga sessions, and after-work activities can also be extremely beneficial.

Work relationships

Relationships at work are also a potential stress factor, claim 20% of the respondents. This involves not just peer-to-peer relationships but also those with management and directorship.

There are a variety of tactics an employer can implement to foster friendships at work. Implementing bonding activities and a dedicate break and social room are great ways to encourage staff to mingle. A welcoming interior and a range of activities, such as darts and a pool table, can go a long way in fostering healthy work relationships.

 

Many factors are at play when it comes to employees’ well-being and productivity, and facilitating a healthy, stress-free work environment is a major one. Stress reduction might have not been handled adequately in the past; however, developing an awareness of employees’ needs and adopting a new approach can lead to success.

 

Sources

https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/health-wellbeing-work-report-2021_tcm18-93541.pdf

https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg424.pdf

https://www.bps.org.uk/sites/www.bps.org.uk/files/Policy/Policy – Files/Covid-related anxiety and stress in the workplace.pdf

 

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