Top Tips for Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace
Posted by Tracy Seward - Marketing Manager
Work-related pressure is certainly nothing new. We’ve all experienced it, such is the nature of work. For most of us, pressure is nothing more than a fleeting emotion as we realise we’re running late or completely unprepared for an important meeting. For many others, however, excessive, prolonged and uncontrollable pressure levels are incredibly hard to deal with and can result in stress.
Although intense pressure can sometimes act as an effective motivational tool, unrelenting workplace pressure can often leave us feeling anxious, fatigued and emotionally drained which is what is known as stress. This kind of chronic stress often results in all manner of physical and behavioural side effects, impacting on both our personal lives and overall workplace performance.
As an employer, you have an obligation to minimise these stressful factors and ensure your workers wellbeing is recognised and managed through a joined up programme of support.
Unfortunately, stress has become all too familiar for 595,000 UK workers. The latest HSE stats show that over 15 million working days were lost due to stress, anxiety and depression in 2017/18, equating to an average of just over 25 days per sufferer and accounting for 57% of all days lost to ill health.
In addition, a study carried out by the Mental Health Foundation discovered that 74% of people have felt completely overwhelmed by elevated stress in the past year, with 51% of sufferers also experiencing feelings of depression. According to a 2018 Perkbox survey, these intense feelings of stress were caused by work for 59% of UK adults, with just 9% of respondents claiming to have never experienced high-levels of work-related stress.
Without question, stress levels are on the rise—and the pressures of the modern workplace are by far the leading cause. From an employer’s point of view, these high absenteeism rates will typically lead to reduced productivity and poor worker performance. It’s time to act.
The workplace will always present employees with a level of pressure, but it’s your responsibility to recognise and provide support strategies which can be active and reactive. According to both HSE and a report from Cascade HR, high workloads are the leading cause of work-related stress, while Perkbox had similar findings with long working hours in the number one spot.
However, it’s important to note that different people will react to pressure in very different ways, and you might find that other factors are causing your employees particularly high levels of stress. Indeed, each of the above studies also found that work performance, colleague behaviour and management style can be incredibly harmful factors, which is why developing a supportive work environment and wellbeing programme is always so important.
To help combat the stress caused by heavy workloads, employers need to help workers remain organised and ensure they’re comfortable in prioritising tasks; offering the tools, knowledge and communication required for employees to complete their work efficiently.
By ensuring managers and employees are given the proper training, employers can increase awareness of the causes, signs and risks of work-related stress. A stress awareness course will help managers and employees recognise the difference between pressure and stress, feel confident to discuss it in an open way and develop effective coping strategies, while also creating a much more supportive working environment and culture.
Releasing endorphins, increasing energy and boosting confidence, maintaining an active lifestyle has always been an effective stress-buster. Employers can encourage workers to incorporate more exercise into their average working day by offering on-site fitness classes, gym membership discounts or active days out of the office.
Research suggests that switching off after work is the most popular method of reducing stress and increasing mental wellbeing. Instead of bringing their work home with them, employees should use their time out of the office to relax and enjoy themselves. Employers need to establish clear boundaries with their staff to provide a stronger work-life balance and prevent work overload.
Since so many people feel stressed by heavy workloads and tight deadlines, it’s important for employees to stay organised and prioritise tasks. When they have access to effective scheduling tools and the support they need to handle heavy workloads, employees will naturally feel much more relaxed about getting everything done on time.
65% of people who suffer from stress also struggle with sleep loss. Therefore, employers need to make sure they’re highlighting the impact of sleep deprivation, while also encouraging rest, relaxation and regular breaks. A lack of sleep will typically lead to irritability, short tempers and increased stress, but the rejuvenating effects of a healthy sleep pattern will help employees better manage stressful situations.
At times, it’s just a simple matter of opening up to someone. Employees can lift a weight from their shoulders by talking to a colleague or discussing the issue with their manager, which is why a friendly and supportive working environment can be so important. Instead of feeling completely overwhelmed, employees require support if they’re ever going to conquer stress once and for all.
Although employers should certainly take steps to create a healthier work-life balance and encourage more active employee lifestyles, mental; wellbeing and stress awareness courses are undoubtedly one of the most effective method of increasing employee wellbeing.
Our courses provide managers and employees with a deep understanding of the causes, signs and dangers of work-related stress, while also highlighting the differences between stress and pressure. By ensuring managers have the tools to help employees recognise the symptoms of stress both in themselves and others, can create a more supportive and considerate working culture.
The Stress Awareness for Managers course ensures that managers are fully aware of their responsibilities and have a better understanding of managing and improving wellbeing in the workplace and the ability to support their teams. After completing our Stress Awareness for Employees course, workers will come away with the knowledge required to deal with pressure and stress effectively and be able to discuss any issues with their manager.
To learn more about handling mental wellbeing or to enquire about one of our IOSH approved health & safety courses, contact a member of our dedicated team today!