Stress is one of the main causes of physical and mental ill health in the workplace. Today marks the very first International Stress Awareness Day which hopes to raise awareness of stress and its effects
Stress has become one of the inevitabilities of life, the same way you expect to get a cold at some point in a year or have your name misspelled at Starbucks, this is probably why most people often remark that they are stressed. While for some this may be a short-term issue that is quickly resolved by some proactive solutions, for others it can easily manifest itself and becoming overwhelming which leads to greater mental health issues.
Key findings from Legal & General’s ‘Not a red card offence’ mental health forum revealed that 78% of employers believe their employees would talk to them about their mental ill health when in reality only 9% of employees would feel comfortable discussing such issues with their employer.
There is a clear disconnect between what the relationship employers believe they have with their employee and how comfortable employees feel disclosing personal information to their employer.
There are a plethora of factors that can lead to stress manifesting in the workplace, some may be linked to workload or the workplace culture and others may be external factors such as issues at home or money-related stress. Whatever the issues may be, it is important for employers to implement measures to help employees tackle stress and other mental wellbeing issues.
Morag Livingston, head of group risk and wellbeing at Secondsight, sets out simple steps employers can take to combat workplace stress, including:
- Encourage a good work-life balance and support employees in supporting personal commitments with flexible working;
- Support employees in taking a lunch break or step away from their desk for a period of time each day;
- Encourage open communication and listening between managers and employees;
- Remind employees about the benefits offering, supporting them with their own wellbeing, including; income protection benefits, healthcare benefits, employee assistance programmes, financial wellbeing information to name a few; and
- Normalise our language. When we talk about mental health it conjures up a poor image, yet when we refer to physical health, it has a much more positive image.
Longer term, employers could look at:
- Implementing a structured employee wellbeing programme;
- Reviewing the benefits package to ensure it meets the needs of your workforce and your organisations objectives;
- Offer Mental Health First Aid training to all managers; and /or
- Provide stress management workshops for all employees
Livingston adds “Everyone should be able to ask for help if they need it, and what better way to help your employees, than for you to be able to offer this support through the workplace. Organisations are generally healthier when their employees are healthy and motivated. A win: win all round!”