6 areas of workplace stress and how to tackle them
It’s often been said that a little bit of stress is no bad thing, and some individuals really thrive in high-pressured workplaces.
However, unhealthy levels of pressure and stress can negatively affect an employee in many ways – ways which can be invisible to colleagues and management. Left unchecked, these stress factors can have a major impact on both the individual and the business.
According to the 2016 ComPsych StressPulse Report, 92% of employees have either high levels of stress with extreme fatigue/feeling out of control (60%); or constant but manageable stress levels (32%). While just under 30% of workers miss three to six days per year due to stress.
The consequences of workplace stress are serious for all concerned and can include the following:
- Reduced productivity; lack of motivation; increased risk of mistakes
- Absenteeism; quitting
- Mood swings; angry outbursts; feelings of low worth
- Bullying other members of staff
- Anxiety; insomnia; depression
Obviously stress can exist outside of the workplace and still be brought into work. This is harder for companies to address, but for stress within the workplace there is a duty of care that businesses cannot ignore.
There are six areas of work that can have a negative impact on employee health if not properly managed. Although they might appear obvious, it is critical managers recognize them. Read on to find out what they are and how to tackle them:
1. Demands – workload, work patterns and the work environment
- provide employees with adequate and achievable demands, particularly in relation to their agreed hours of work i.e. don’t expect a part-time employee to produce the same workload as a full-timer
- match people’s skills and abilities to the job demands – don’t try and fit a square peg in a round hole
- address concerns about employees’ working environment in a timely manner
2. Control – how much say a person has in the way they do their work
- encourage employees to develop new skills
- consult staff over new working patterns and procedures
- enable employees to have a say over break-times, working hours, and the pace of their work
3. Support – the encouragement and resources provided by the organization, line management and colleagues
- implement systems to enable and encourage managers to support their staff and for employees to support their colleagues
- ensure employees know what support is available and how and when to access it
- encourage line managers to touch base regularly with their staff, be it through weekly catch-ups, team meetings, or other communications channels
4. Role – understanding of their role within the organization
- provide detailed and relevant information to enable employees to understand their role and responsibilities within the business
- ensure that the requirements placed upon employees are clear
- have systems in place to enable employees to raise concerns about any uncertainties or conflicts they have in their role
5. Change – how organizational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organization
- explain the reasons for proposed changes
- ensure adequate consultation on changes and provide opportunities for employees to influence proposals
- communicate the timetable for any changes
- provide employees with relevant support during changes
6. Relationships – promoting positive working and dealing with unacceptable behavior
- promote positive behavior at work to avoid conflict and ensure fairness
- encourage employees to share information relevant to their role
- have agreed policies and procedures in place to prevent or resolve unacceptable behavior
Creating a positive, caring, low-stress environment for staff can help drive down absenteeism, boost staff retention, and increase productivity. A great day-to-day workforce experience generates long-term employee wellbeing, so managing the health and wellness of your staff now is vital for a resilient and happy workforce in the future.