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How to Recognise Stress in the Workplace

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How to Recognise Stress in the Workplace

While our individual job roles haven’t necessarily become harder over the last few years, there’s no denying that they have changed considerably. 

This unfamiliarity, combined with the increasing number of expectations, has caused the presence of stress to spike in the majority of workplaces.

In fact, in 2022, over 76% of UK employees report feeling “moderate” to “high” levels of stress on a day-to-day basis (Source: Champion Health). 

The Consequences of Stress in the Workplace

When multiple members of a team are feeling stressed in the workplace, a spiral starts to form. Over time, more employees start to report feeling stressed and performance begins to drop. 

Therefore, mitigating stress before it becomes an unmanageable problem needs to be a priority for every leader.

6 Signs that Your Employees are Burnt-out or Stressed

Other than simply asking after the wellbeing of your employees and crossing your fingers that they’ll tell you the honest truth, you need a way to more accurately identify when stress levels are high.

To do so, pay attention to:

  • Employee Turnover: A HRO survey found that 40% of employee turnover in the UK is due to stress.

  • Absences: The American Institute of Stress estimates that 1 million workers worldwide are absent every day due to stress.

  • Performance: The NIH discovered that “elevated stress levels can impede performance on tasks that require divided attention, working memory, retrieval of information from memory, and decision making.” 

  • Conflict: According to the CMEO, 34% of workplace conflict is caused by stress.

A dramatic shift in any of these signs should place you on high alert, eager to get to the bottom of the problem. 

If you can address stress in the workplace during its early stages, you should be able to stop the consequences from spreading and affecting the wellbeing of others.

How to Combat Stress in the Workplace

At the end of the day, stressed employees need support. 

While it might be instinctual to address the issue of performance dropping, you should avoid placing them in the spotlight and making the situation worse.

Instead, you need to find a way to give their wellbeing a positive boost and help them find their feet again.

Step 1. Invest in Mental Health Resources

One of the best solutions for stress in the workplace is to direct funding into mental health resources that your employees can use. This may come in the form of a gym membership, where exercise has been proven to combat stress, or free therapy. Even something as simple as taking the time to educate your team about looking after their mental health can make a huge difference to general wellbeing.

Step 2. Increase the Available Communication Channels

When employees do need extra support, it has to be easy for them to get it. If they need to jump through multiple hoops to speak to someone who can assist them, this is only going to add to their struggle. Make sure that your team has the contact information of all senior members of staff, as this will allow them to seek guidance when it’s needed. You could also consider establishing a specific process for individuals to follow when they need an extra helping hand.

Step 3. Offer Sincere Support

Should the stress be caused by something that’s completely out of your control, a simple offer of support can make a huge difference. Your employee will recognise that you are by their side and they don’t have to face this difficult period alone. Therefore, rather than caving to the stress, they’ll find the strength to fight it – significantly reducing the risk of them handing in their notice.

Step 4. Grant Additional Sick and Holiday Leave

When you have struggling employees who are feeling overwhelmed, the best thing for them is to rest. Even if your staff have already used up their allocated holiday days, giving them a week off to recover from a bad experience will ensure they return healthy and ready to tackle their workload. As a result, day-to-day productivity will recover.

Step 5. Recruit Additional Employees 

If your whole team is struggling with stress due to unfair and difficult workloads, there’s only one solution… onboarding additional employees. This will reduce the weight resting on each person’s shoulders and allow everyone to focus on doing each task perfectly, rather than rushing to start the next. Before long, conflict will be almost non-existent and things will be running smoothly once more.

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