April is Stress Awareness Month and research reveals that stress in the workplace is growing. With this in mind here are some top tips for overcoming stress in the workplace

Regardless of the nature of your job or the size of a company, stress is something that we will inevitably face.

Health Assured CEO David Price says “For many, workplace demands are the usual cause of high-stress levels where an employee becomes overwhelmed or overloaded with work, short deadlines and demanding projects. Stress will have a significant detrimental impact on the workplace as its effects lead to unhealthy employees, low productivity, an increase in workplace disputes and higher absenteeism. Proactively taking steps to manage stress will help reduce these effects, and will also help employers meet their legal duty to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of employees.”

EAP provider Health Assured reported receiving 14,182 calls in 2017 related to stress. Half of the calls seeking counselling support were from people over the age of 40 with only 15% of calls from people under 30 years old.

While this may suggest that those aged 40 and older are more stressed, the research found that those under 30 are not as restrained when it comes to speaking about mental health issues whereas those over 40 find comfort in talking to a person not directly related to them.

In terms of gender, 63% of stress-related calls were from females in comparison to 37% of stress-related calls being from males.

The Health Insurance group have developed 10 tips for tackling stress:

1. Identify triggers

It’s important to get to know what the causes and triggers of stress are in the workplace. Knowledge is power, and this will help build a plan of how to tailor stress management for a particular environment.

2. Empower managers

Managers play a pivotal role in supporting staff. Employers should offer management training that develops good management practices and include specific mental health training, to equip them to identify and manage mental health issues proactively.

3. Select affordable support service to get business buy-in

Providing mental health support doesn’t have to add additional cost. Support may already be included within your existing employee benefits. Private medical insurance, group protection products, employee assistance programmes can all provide support for mental health. It’s important to look at what cover is already in place.

If additional support is required, look for solutions that offer good value for money to ensure you are able to get buy-in from the business.

4. Personalise support

Everyone deals with stress differently. Employers need to offer a range of support to ensure everyone has access to something that is appropriate for them.

5. Signpost support

Good support will not help if employees are unaware or uncomfortable using it. Train managers to signpost staff to the most appropriate support when an individual is struggling and under stress.

6. Embrace technology

Smartphones are an increasingly effective tool that can be used to engage staff, communicate initiatives and enable them to monitor their stress levels. Use them to promote the mental health support. Technology can also help leadership teams manage mental health by providing anonymised data which can be used to identify patterns and highlight high-risk areas. Forward-thinking companies will look at how to embrace technology to help support mental wellbeing.

7. Encourage physical activity

Physical and mental health are closely connected, so much so that, according to mental health charity Mind, regular exercise can be more effective at treating mild to moderate depression than taking antidepressants**. Encourage staff to participate in active pastimes and sport.

8. Offer financial advice

Money worries are a common cause of stress. Offering financial advice, debt counselling and money management can help remove or reduce this source of stress.

9. Keep the focus on mental health throughout the year

Although April’s designation as stress awareness month provides a good opportunity to review the support you have in place, supporting mental health should not be an isolated event once a year. Roll out a calendar of events during the year that promote good mental health and wellbeing, and remind employees about the support that is available should they need it.

10. Don’t forget about HR

Being responsible for the staff in an organisation does not make an individual immune from stress. HR Managers often carry the burden of other people’s problems as well as their own. It is essential that HR managers are not forgotten. Employers should ensure they have all the tools available they need to manage absence so that they are well positioned to spot patterns and help the organisation to manage stress.

Brett Hill, managing director, The Health Insurance Group, said: “As April is stress awareness month it is a great opportunity for employers to look at how they are nurturing good mental health in the office by reducing stress. There is a human and an economic cost attached to stress. By following these top tips organisations can make their workplaces better places to work.”