According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), work related stress, anxiety or depression accounts for over 50% of working days lost in the UK. In 2017/18, a shocking 15.4 million working days were lost to stress. Despite government initiatives such as the announcement of a 24-hour mental health hotline, these figures do not look to be abating in the short term.
What can you do as an employer to spot the signs of stress in your workplace? Here's some advice to help you support your staff by recognising the key signs of stress.
Check patterns of absence
Many employees will not declare stress as a reason for absence. Even after the 7-day self-certification period has passed, doctors will often support their patients by stating an unrelated condition on the sick note.
It's easy to see why. Employees are concerned that stress is viewed as weakness and suggests an inability to perform tasks. This becomes a vicious cycle, and your team can be weakened by this failure to deal with the real cause.
How can you help break this? Look for patterns of absence around heavy workloads and deadlines and create a workplace culture where stress is not a hidden topic.
Creating a supportive workplace
No employer wants a toxic workplace. It reduces team productivity and can lead to a high level of staff turnover. Simply being kind and offering warm words will not fix the problem. Employers need to be more proactive in supporting their staff. You will need to address excessive workloads, unrealistic deadlines and irrelevant meetings and set more realistic time goals. Employees with a healthy work-life balance will work more efficiently and effectively.
Be open and transparent
Stress does not need to be a hidden or secret illness. Treat it like any other illness or cause for absence. If an employee had a broken limb, you’d work with them to make sure that the workplace was viable and safe for them to return to. Why should it be different with stress? Taking the taboo out of the condition will reap rewards. Create an environment where asking for help and support is encouraged and welcome.How to spot signs of stress in your team