What Can We Do About Stress in the Workplace?

  • How Does Stress Effect the Workplace & What Can We Do About It?

    21 Jun 2019

    How Does Stress Effect the Workplace & What Can We Do About It?

     

    According to a 2018 survey commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation, ‘74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope’[1].

    Whether it’s at work, home, or both, sometimes it can all just feel too much.

    Whilst a certain amount of stress is normal and can even be helpful, it should never feel overwhelming.

    As employers it’s important to be aware of impacts stress can have on your staff and the company.

     

    Effects of stress in the workplace:

    A recent Acas YouGov poll of 2,000 adults found that ‘two-thirds of employees have felt stressed and/or anxious about work in the last 12 months’[2].

    The HSE 2017/18 Labour Force Survey found that:

    - In 2017/18 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 44% of all work-related ill health cases and 57% of all working days lost due to ill health[3].

    - In 2017/18 alone it was found that 15.4 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety[4].

    The results of the survey indicate a significant impact on the productivity and morale of the workplace.

     

     "Stress management training is important...but by its very nature is too late." Tweet: Stress management training is important, but by its very nature is too late.

     

     

    What are your legal responsibilities as an employer?

    Stress is a serious health concern, that can affect individuals’ mental and physical health[5].  

    Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure their employees’ wellbeing in the workplace. Managing employees’ stress is one of the elements covered by the ‘Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999[6].

    It’s not all on the employer though, employees also have a responsibility for their own health and safety at work. Making sure they are a part of the conversation, ensuring that stress is a topic that can be discussed openly is useful for both parties.

     

    What causes stress in the workplace?

    The ACAS poll published May 2019 found that the 3 biggest causes of stress in the workplace are workload (60%), way they are managed (42%), and work/life balance (35%)[7].

    Dr Susan Michie’s ‘Causes and Management of Stress at Work’ listed a range of factors that contributed to workplace stress.[8]

     Mindmap of sources of stress in the workplace

     

    What can be done about it?

    Stress is always likely to be a part of work-life, and with so many factors potentially contributing towards it, it can be hard for employers to identify the best way to help their employees.

    One of the biggest problems for an employer is that their response to stress within their workforce is reactive when the symptoms have already been identified.

    Whilst utilising stress management training is important and has its place in the work environment, it is by its very nature, too late.

    As an alternative, mental health charity Mind recommends developing individuals’ emotional resilience;

    ‘Resilience is not just your ability to bounce back, but also your capacity to adapt in the face of challenging circumstances, whilst maintaining stable mental wellbeing. Resilience isn't a personality trait – it's something that we can all take steps to achieve’[9].

     

    Resilience Training

    Becoming more resilient is a learnable skill. It's about finding tools and techniques that work for the individual.

    A key component of resilience training is helping individuals identify their motivators and current coping mechanisms. 

    By developing new approaches and methods combined with this increased awareness, delegates can build their personal resilience.

    It’s been found that resilience training is particularly effective for helping people with stress, depression, and anxiety (Robertson, I. et al, 2015)[10].

    We offer a 1-day Resilience training course that focuses on helping you identify and understand your own motivations and providing you with a toolkit to help you deal with any setbacks, helping to decrease stress and anxiety.

    We also offer resilience training as a private course for companies that want to develop a culture of resilience and establish preventative stress management measures.

    More information about our Resilience Training course please follow this link.

     

    References

    [1] Mental Health Foundation. 2018. Stressed nation: 74% of UK 'overwhelmed or unable to cope' at some point in the past year. [ONLINE] Available at https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/news/stressed-nation-74-uk-overwhelmed-or-unable-cope-some-point-past-year . [Accessed 6 June 2019].

    [2] Adrian Wakeling. 2019. Acas Workplace Policy paper: Stress and Anxiety at work: personal or cultural? [Online] Available at: http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/p/c/Stress_and_anxiety_at_work_personal_or_cultural.pdf [Accessed 6 June 2019].

    [3] HSE (Health and Safety Executive). 2018. Work related stress depression or anxiety statistics in Great Britain, 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress.pdf . [Accessed 6 June 2019].

    [4] HSE (Health and Safety Executive). 2018. Work related stress depression or anxiety statistics in Great Britain, 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress.pdf . [Accessed 6 June 2019].

    [5] NHS. 2017. How to deal with stress.  [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/understanding-stress/#symptoms-of-stress [Accessed 7 June 2019].

    [6] The Stress Management Society. 2015. What the law says.[ONLINE] Available at: http://www.stress.org.uk/legal-requirements/ [Accessed 7 June 2019]

    [7] Adrian Wakeling. 2019. Acas Workplace Policy paper: Stress and Anxiety at work: personal or cultural? [Online] Available at: http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/p/c/Stress_and_anxiety_at_work_personal_or_cultural.pdf [Accessed 6 June 2019].

    [8] Michie S. 2002. Causes And Management Of Stress At Work. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2002;59:67-72.

    [9] Mind. 2017. How to Manage Stress. [Online] Available at: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/stress/developing-resilience/#.XPj-0IhKiUk [Accessed 6 June 2019]

    [10] Robertson, I. T., Cooper, C. L., Sarkar, M. and Curran, T. 2015. Resilience training in the workplace from 2003 to 2014: A systematic review. J Occup Organ Psychol, 88: 533-562. 

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