To coincide with National Mental Health Awareness week (14-20 May 2018) our blog this month is all about Stress and how to prevent it.  As an employer it’s vital to understand how stress could affect the mental wellbeing of your staff and ultimately your business.

The impact of stress on a workplace should never be underestimated. Stress can have an incredibly negative impact on a person’s relationships, general health and wellbeing, as well as how they deal with everyday situations – which in turn affects the team they are working in.

Here is our step-by-step guide of how you as a small business can effectively manage stress in the workplace:

Step 1:  Ask how good your stress radar is

Having the ability to identify the signs of stress in yourself and your team is key.  Are you good at sensing if a member of your team is feeling stressed? Can you spot subtle changes in their behaviour? Would you notice if someone was distracted, struggling to meet deadlines and quieter than usual?  As a manager, how good are you at spotting your own stress levels?  Would you realise if you were becoming more irritable, or quiet, or less effective at work and home?

As an employer or line manager, you need to be able to spot signs of stress in your team, before it causes any long-term problems for you, the staff member and the business. Stress which goes unnoticed can cause performance problems, sickness absence issues and much worse.

Step 2: Consider how to improve your stress radar

Having the skills to identify stress in your team, or yourself, at an early stage can help prevent the chance of a long term negative impact on the team and the business. Improving your stress radar is critical to keeping your team on track.

There are a few tools you can use to help improve your stress radar and make sure you pick up signs of stress and problems early on:

  • Invest in relevant training for your managers and supervisors to spot stress
  • Ensure there is a system for staff to talk about concerns and problems
  • Regularly review your sickness absence, staff turnover rates and other indicators
  • Ensure there are good communication processes in place
  • Keep all policies and procedures for staff welfare up-to-date
  • Encourage your managers and supervisors to raise issues openly

Step 3: Look at ways to help reduce stress

  • Support staff – It’s important to support staff through times of stress to help them feel valued as employees, as well as to reduce the potential impact on the business. Stress that is not reduced can lead to longer term problems with staff morale and recruitment generally. Managing signs of stress can also place an added pressure on the employer and line managers too so the support mechanisms need to go all the way up the organisation.
  • Identify the source of the stress – This is key to help reduce stress.  It’s worth considering whether the business has gone through a structure change which the staff are struggling with, or have you announced a merger or redundancies? Any big business change can cause stress and worry among staff so good communication is vital here.It could equally be a personal issue that is causing lack of concentration or performance issues at work so providing a support mechanism where employees can talk and discuss issues before they impact negatively on the business, could be a great way to reduce stress levels.
  • Consider an Employee Assistance Program – these types of schemes can be incredibly useful and show staff that they really are valued by the company as individuals. This support provides employees with confidential advice regarding many personal matters such as money concerns, dealing with a bereavement, relationship counselling etc.
  • Encourage health & wellbeing amongst your staff – consider planning a range of activities and key messages to educate staff and managers and remove any stigma associated with mental ill health. It is important that line managers act as role models to encourage healthy behaviours.

Ultimately, if you and your managers have good in-built stress radars and methods in place to help support staff and address issues head on, your business is far less likely to suffer any long term negative impact.

For further information on the National Mental Health Awareness week, please visit the Mental Health Foundation website.

Reality HR can help support your organisation as it seeks to become adept at managing wellbeing in your workplace. Please give us a call on 01256 328 428 for a free 15-minute consultation.