Workplace Stress – How Can We Combat It?

Sadly, in today’s culture workplace stress is all too common, as professionals battle longer hours and heavier workloads. According to the latest research from CV-Library, over half of UK professionals (53.2 %) feel that stress is an issue in their current workplace, and this is having a negative impact on both individuals, and businesses. As today is ‘National Stress Awareness Day’ it’s the perfect opportunity to take a step back and ensure that you are addressing stress in your organisation. Failure to recognise and combat the pressures your staff may be facing, could lead to low morale, and poor health.

Not only this, but the study also revealed that professionals feel there is a taboo around workplace stress, with 61.9% believing that their employer looks down on those who are affected. Below I explore the common misconceptions about workplace stress, and how you can combat these to ensure your staff are happy, healthy and productive.

‘Stress will lead to time off’

Stress can have a damaging effect on employee health, leading to fatigue or sickness. But one of the most common misconceptions about stress is that it will always come to a head, and can cause major health issues. Nearly half of workers (46.9%) believe that stress can make employees burn out, causing them to take time away from work. Whilst this can happen, it is not a certainty; if recognised early enough, stress can be managed and dealt with, without the need for time away from the office.

Being able to recognise the signs of overworked staff is important as an employer. If you find that some employees are always at their desk early, and don’t leave the office until late, encourage them to adopt a better work-life balance, and use more of their free time to relax and unwind. Reassure staff that taking annual leave is a good thing, and that it’s important to have a life outside of work. If you can see an employee is not coping with their workload, help them to delegate and prioritise their ‘to do list’ to relieve some of the pressure. By spotting and combatting the signs early, you can avoid having team members becoming ill and taking time off due to stress. 

‘Employees should be able to handle stress’

In today’s ‘always on’ society professionals are finding it increasingly hard to switch off from work at the end of the day, leading to a poor work-life balance. This in turn has led to stress becoming such a regular problem for some employees, that it has almost come to be expected. Two thirds of workers (66.8%) believe that staff should be able to handle some stress within their working lives, cementing just how commonplace it has become.

As an employer, you need to ensure you don’t create a culture where your staff think that stress comes as part of their job. Everyone will have stressful days from time to time, but it should not be a daily occurrence. If this is an issue amongst your workforce, be sure to foster an environment where staff feel they can ask for support when they need to. By encouraging regular team or individual meetings you can help staff to prioritise their work load and share any problems they may be facing.

‘Stress will impact career progression’

Over two thirds (67%) of workers believe that stress can have a negative effect on performance in the workplace, with a staggering 89% stating that they believe being susceptible to stress at work can have a negative impact on career progression. Unfortunately, stress does happen and it’s worrying to learn that staff believe this could have an effect on their success in the future.

Every professional has the right to progress in their career without feeling too much pressure, and in order to keep staff productive and moving forward they need to feel supported. Stress and work do not come hand in hand, so make sure your employees are aware that it is OK to feel overwhelmed sometimes, and ensure the lines of communication are open between managers and staff if they do ever need to ask for help.

It’s clear from the research that stress at work is still a taboo for some workers, who believe that you should be able to handle it well, or else risk damaging your career. As an employer it is important that you create an open environment where staff can ask for help when they need to, and that stress is something that is talked about. By spotting the signs early you can help to reduce employees becoming stressed in the first place, and create a happy and productive workforce, that support each other.

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