Conquering workplace stress: The impact on employees and organisations

Lizzie Buxton

Written By Lizzie Buxton

10th April 2024

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Businesses are currently facing the highest rates of absence in over a decade, with an average of 7.8 missed days per year (CIPD). This is reportedly due to record levels of workplace stress and the impact of the cost-of-living pressures on mental wellbeing.

Stress is a common issue in modern workplaces and can be triggered by heavy workloads, tight deadlines, and interpersonal conflicts. If left unmanaged, it can severely affect both individuals and organisations.

April is Stress Awareness Month, providing a great opportunity for organisations to demonstrate their commitment to proactively implementing strategies to reduce workplace stress, raise awareness and signpost how they support employee well-being. By providing resources for coping strategies, workplaces can cultivate a healthier and more resilient workforce.

To access useful resources and learn more about stress awareness, visit the Stress Awareness Month website here. In this blog, we explore practical tips and advice on how you can conquer stress in the workplace.

76% take time off work due to stress

Work related stress can have significant and far-reaching consequences for both individuals and organisations. It can affect physical and mental health, relationships, and career prospects. When individuals feel stressed, it can be challenging to maintain productivity and focus on work, and understandably, high levels of stress can lead to increased absenteeism among employees.

Studies show that workplace stress is associated with significant productivity losses.  As mentioned by Sky News in this article about stress in the workplace, 76% of those surveyed reported having taken time off work due to stress in the previous year. This absenteeism and reduced productivity can severely impact organisational performance and profitability.

To manage the impact of stress effectively, it’s essential to recognise mental health as being as important as physical health and take action proactively.

Key strategies for reducing stress in the workplace

Prioritising stress reduction in the workplace involves implementing policies and best practices that support employees in managing stress, encouraging employees to seek help when needed and enabling a healthy work-life balance.

Introducing resources to support stress management is an essential strategy to ensure engagement and productivity in organisations. By educating employees on stress identification and management techniques, empowering managers to support their teams effectively, and offering access to mental health services, organisations can cultivate an environment where individuals feel valued, supported, and better equipped to manage stress effectively.

1. Invest in your managers

Investing in manager well-being and upskilling has a ripple effect. Not only does it benefit them by reducing their stress levels, but it empowers them to drive a thriving work environment for their teams. This leads to increased productivity, morale, and motivation.

By developing their skills to actively listen, empathise with team member challenges, and provide constructive feedback with care, managers build trust and psychological safety. This environment empowers open communication and honest decision-making, leading to a more authentic and ethical leadership style.

Organisations that prioritise creating an environment of compassionate leadership, equipping managers with the skills to recognise signs of poor performance and well-being issues early on enable proactive interventions. This approach helps prevent problems from escalating into absences or employee relations cases that could be prevented.

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2. Mental health awareness

Robust health and wellness initiatives play a vital role in nurturing employee engagement and reducing workplace stress. When organisations focus on employee well-being, it not only benefits individuals but also strengthens the organisation as a whole.

Understanding the common signs and symptoms of stress can help you proactively tackle it. These can include:

  • Physical: Headaches, stomach aches, fatigue
  • Emotional: Anxiety, low mood, irritability
  • Behavioural: Difficulty sleeping, social withdrawal, problems concentrating

Investing in Mental Health First Aid Training is a significant investment in supporting your people through times of stress and mental health challenges. It equips your workforce with the knowledge and skills to confidently support colleagues who might be struggling. This training is a rewarding opportunity to develop new skills, refresh your understanding of mental health support, and practice using the MHFA action plan.

With our MFHA England accredited courses, your teams gain access to three years of ongoing MHFAider® support through a convenient app. This includes features like conversation logging, signposting to resources, and 24/7 text support, ensuring your Mental Health First Aiders feel confident and prepared to provide help when needed. Enquire today to find out more about the AdviserPlus Mental Health First Aider training courses.

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3. Employee benefits packages

Competitive salaries are just one piece of the puzzle. Building a comprehensive employee benefits package is the foundation of supporting employee well-being. Central to these packages is access to essential mental health services, such as confidential counselling and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs).

EAPs play a vital role in employee well-being by providing a safe and supportive space for them to address personal and professional challenges. These confidential programs offer a range of services, including counselling sessions, legal and financial assistance, and referrals to specialists. This comprehensive support empowers employees to manage stress proactively, develop coping mechanisms, and navigate difficult situations with confidence.

By prioritising employee mental health through access to EAPs, employers demonstrate their commitment to a healthy and thriving work environment. This not only benefits employees by providing them with the tools they need to manage their well-being, but also ensures a positive and productive workplace for everyone.

4. Recognise the impact of your HR policies

HR policies also play a significant role in supporting employee stress levels. Well-designed policies can be powerful tools to promote work-life balance, clear communication, and a supportive environment. These elements, along with access to well-being programmes, equip employees with the resources they need to manage stress effectively, especially when combined with access to well-being programmes.

  • Regularly reviewing policies is important to ensure they are inclusive.
  • Policies that are not fit for a modern workforce could exacerbate issues of bias or unfair treatment and create a hostile environment for marginalised groups.
  • Building well-defined and inclusive HR practices enables organisations to create a more equitable and supportive environment where everyone can thrive.

By recognising the impact policies play in helping to share a positive culture, and taking a mindful approach to employee well-being, organisations can create a happier, healthier workforce. This not only mitigates legal risks but also drives a positive company culture that prioritises its people. The result? Increased productivity and reduced employee turnover.

Our HR experts are here to help you empower your managers and boost your bottom line. Get in touch for a free consultation and find out how our experts can support you to create modern, well-being-focused HR policies. Together, we can build workplaces where everyone thrives.

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