Employers essential guide to identifying stress and how to deal with it

stressed woman wearing black with her head in her hands

According to a recent survey, excessive stress has been experienced by nearly half of UK employees (47%) over the past year, which has led to nearly one in 10 quitting their job.

To mark International Stress Awareness Week (2nd – 5th November), the UK’s biggest online learning provider, The Skills Network, is offering UK businesses free access to courses in mental health.

The courses are designed to provide employees with the skills and awareness of how to spot stress in others, and to also provide them with the resources and knowledge to address and support anyone who is struggling.

So, what are the key signs employers should be looking out for?

1. Increase in sickness/absences

Stress can impact the entire body and cause our immune systems to falter, leading to health problems such as migraines and feeling run down. If you’re noticing more absences in your team due to illness, this could be an indication that your team are feeling overwhelmed.

2. There’s a dip in productivity

A happy team is a productive team according to a recent survey, so if you’re struggling to understand a dip in productivity, take a look at your team’s day-to-day attitude. Do they complain more, struggle to meet deadlines, take longer to reply to emails or produce work at a lower standard all of a sudden?

All of these things are an indicator that stress is stopping their ability to perform effectively within the role and should be addressed as soon as possible.

3. The office vibe is low

Being busy can be a good thing as it means your business is thriving and also doesn’t give employees the opportunity to become bored or feel stagnant, but it can quickly lead to stress.

If people appear rushed off their feet and aren’t enjoying chatter amongst their colleagues over a cup of tea, or exchanging even the smallest conversation throughout the day, this could be a sign that people are overwhelmed.

4. Higher turnover

Letting stress fester in your employees will ultimately lead to an increase in turnover, as people start to look for new opportunities where their daily stress will decrease. This is why it’s so important to address the issue as quickly and effectively as possible to show them that you’re offering the support and understanding they need.

If you start to notice more people leaving the business, it’s time to get serious about supporting your staff’s mental health before you’re left with a complete new team and the challenges that come with that.

And what can you do to support your team so that it minimises the bottom line?

5. Check in regularly

If you don’t already check in with your team regularly, now is definitely the time to start, particularly with more people working from home.

During these catch-ups which should ideally be weekly or bi-weekly, take a portion of the session to ask them how they’re feeling in general, leaving the question open for them to lead the response.

Some will likely be more open about their feelings than others, so it’s important that you press on and dig a little deeper to make sure they’re really being honest with you rather than just taking their word for it and moving onto discuss business.

6. Introduce a positive recognition scheme

There’s no denying that sometimes things can get busy, no matter how much you do to keep things manageable, so it’s vital that you recognise the hard work your staff do every day.

Whether it’s a weekly shoutout to someone else in the team or a prize for the best results each month, and simply ensuring managers are highlighting any great work throughout the day, all these things will help keep moral high and stress levels low.

7. Encourage workplace wellness

Health and wellbeing are talked about more than ever and it’s important for business leaders to encourage a healthy work-life balance, to give their staff the time to care of their physical and mental health through socialising with friends, getting enough rest and exercising. It’s important to do all of these things yourself too so they don’t feel pressured or expected to match your long work hours.

8. Upskill your management team

Making sure your management team have the skills to help your employees when they’re struggling with stress and mental health is paramount to dealing with the issue effectively.

Through free courses such as those offered through The Skills Network, you’ll have a well-prepared group of stress handlers able to support the team and overall create a more pleasant place to work.

To find out more about how you could be supporting your staff, or to sign up to one of the free certified courses, please visit www.theskillsnetwork.com.

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