Pressure and stress come’s with most of our jobs. That’s the reality we all face. Whether you work in a seasonal industry such as retail, or an always on stressful environment like banking down in Canary Wharf, stressed workers will be a consistent in our lives.
Here at Gallantium we’ve been seeking to understand why this happens, and how you as HR and people leaders can help. Read on to learn more.
Definition of work related stress and its impact on employees
To get alignment as you read, work related stress can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker(1).
It can impact both employees and employers alike(2). Work stress can lead to poor health, injury, and can affect an employee’s home life(3). Workplace stressors can be physical, such as noise and poor lighting, or psychosocial, such as poor work organisation and design(4)
The role of HR professionals in managing workforce stress
HR professionals play an important role in managing workforce stress. They are responsible for analysing the different stressors in the workplace and working with managers to remove as many of them as possible(6). HR can also develop wellness programs, provide fitness opportunities, and encourage open communication to reduce stress(7).
Additionally, HR managers are responsible for coordinating the organisational response to potential or actual cases of work-related stress(8). Human resource managers play an essential role in the development of stress management strategies to facilitate the interactive internal exchange of ideas and to ensure that employees can cope with the demands of their job and maintain a healthy work-life balance(9,10).
Understanding Workplace Stress
It’s critical to comprehend work related stress because it might harm employees’ health and organisational performance. Stress also has a bad impact on physical and mental health. One of the most important aspects of preserving long-term health is managing occupational stress.
To effectively manage work related stress, it is crucial to comprehend what it is, how it impacts us, and what causes it. We’ve spoken with small business owners, HR recruitment managers and even dentists to get a handle on this. What we have learnt is managers must actively manage work related stress in order to lessen it before it becomes a serious issue. Hence, in order to maintain a positive work environment and enhance organisational performance, it is crucial for both employees and employers to understand work related stress.
Common causes of work related stress
Stress at work has a number of frequent reasons. Some of the main causes of stress at work are heavy workloads, a lack of support, over promotion or unrewarding roles, poor management, a blame culture, and bullying. Take the example of Cassandra Gomez here, who had a new large client onboarding at work whilst at the same time a team member left.
Work related stress is frequently brought on by factors including workload pressure, sloppy organisation, and a lack of managerial assistance. Other key factors contributing to stress at work include a toxic workplace culture, demanding roles or management, bullying and harassment, inadequate communication, and job uncertainty. Work-related stress can also be brought on by elements like long hours, job uncertainty, and confrontations with coworkers or managers.
The physical and mental effects of stress on employees
Employees who are stressed out at work may have both physical and mental impacts. Stress can cause errors, burnout, poor work performance, mental health problems, and workplace conflicts. It also has a negative impact on both employee health and company performance. Employees that are under stress are more likely to experience anxiety, burnout, depression, and substance use problems.
Lower job satisfaction, less meaningful work, and an increased risk of heart disease, musculoskeletal ailments, and other health issues are all physical repercussions of work related stress. With all this in mind, it’s crucial to control work related stress to stop its detrimental impacts on workers’ physical and mental health as well as productivity at work.
Signs of a Stressed Worker: Physical, behavioural, and emotional signs of stress
Employees may display stress-related behavioural, emotional, and physical symptoms. Fatigue, headaches, tense muscles, and sleep difficulties are a few physical symptoms of stress. Reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, and social disengagement are all behavioural indicators of stress. Anger, anxiety, melancholy, and loss of interest are a few emotional symptoms of stress.
Additionally, stress can cause overeating, drug usage, and aggressive behaviour. Stress can negatively impact an employee’s health and productivity, which can result in subpar work output, mental health problems, burnout, and workplace conflicts. As a result, it’s critical to spot the symptoms of employee stress and take the necessary action to manage it well.
How to identify and support employees who may be experiencing stress
Maintaining a stress-free workplace depends on identifying and helping employees who may be struggling. We discussed above how symptoms of stress include exhaustion, poor productivity, irritation, anxiety, and social isolation in workers, among others.
By watching alterations in an employee’s behaviour, such as longer hours worked, more sick days taken, or social isolation, HR professionals can spot stress-related symptoms. HR can assist workers by talking with them about the problems, paying attention to their worries, addressing the root causes of their stress, and providing stress counselling. Employers can also offer tools, solutions, and exercises that can enhance workers’ mental health and wellbeing. Therefore, it is crucial to recognise and assist workers who may be under stress in order to prevent detrimental impacts on their physical and mental health.
The Impact of Workplace Stress on Business Performance
The costs of work related stress to businesses
According to UK statistics, work related stress can have significant costs to businesses. The number of new and longstanding cases of work related stress, depression, and anxiety has risen over 14% accelerated by the pandemic(11). Stress, anxiety, and depression account for 51% of all work-related ill health cases in the UK(12,13). Workplace stress and poor mental health can negatively affect workers’ job performance, productivity, work engagement, communication, physical capability, and daily functioning(14). Stress, depression, and anxiety account for 51% of recorded work-related illnesses in Great Britain(15).
The importance of addressing workplace stress for employee retention, engagement, and productivity
The retention, engagement, and productivity of employees depend on managing workplace stress. Employees’ primary source of stress is their jobs, which can have a negative influence on performance, retention, and workplace culture. Low engagement, loss of productivity, poor performance, and an increase in absences and tardiness are all effects of employee stress. Stress can make it difficult to concentrate and engage in daily tasks, which can make workdays less effective. Employees who are under stress are more likely to be disengaged at work, and this disengagement costs the global economy $8.1 trillion(16) in lost productivity annually.
Strategies for Managing Workplace Stress
Creating a supportive and healthy work environment
An efficient method of reducing workplace stress is to foster a positive and healthy work atmosphere. Employers may make employees feel well, care for their brains physically, and provide tools to help them deal with stress. Employers can take preventative measures to reduce stress before negative effects materialise by having a thorough understanding of what causes stress, how it affects workers, and what provokes it.
Employers can provide crucial supportive services that might not otherwise be available internally by collaborating with external resources for employee wellbeing, such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) or mental health education that we provide here at Gallantium. Job-related stress can also be reduced by offering management training, opportunities for career advancement, and an organisational culture that values each employee individually. Employers can help employees deal with stress by giving them resources to do so, which will boost employees’ performance and general well-being.
Encouraging work-life balance
Promoting work-life balance is a useful tactic for reducing stress at work. Prioritising the key facets of life at work and at home is a necessary step to achieving work-life balance. Employers can promote work-life balance by providing flexible work options like job sharing, flexible schedules, and telecommuting. Employers can also offer tools like time management training, workload management software, and employee assistance programmes to assist staff in managing their time well. Work-life harmony can also be promoted by encouraging staff members to take breaks, use their holiday days, and give priority to their personal lives. Employers can also provide a positive example by modelling good work-life balance habits and encouraging staff to follow suit. In order to reduce workplace stress and boost employee retention, engagement, and productivity, we can’t emphasise enough that it is essential to promote work-life balance.
Providing training and resources for stress management
An efficient method of controlling workplace stress is by offering training and resources for doing so. In order to allow the dynamic internal interchange of identifying techniques to reduce stress, resolving disagreement, and producing proposals and recommendations for doing so, human resource managers play a crucial role in the creation of stress management strategies. Giving employees training in stress-reduction techniques can help them handle the demands of their jobs and keep a healthy work-life balance. Programmes for workplace health and stress management can assist lessen the severity and effects of stress and replenish an employee’s depleted psychological resources.
If you scroll to the bottom of this page, https://gallantium.com/video-calendar/managing-stress-at-work/, there is a 1 minute 10 second video with some top tips that will help.
HR departments can examine all the stressors present in their specific workplace and work with the relevant management to eliminate as many of them as they can. In order to address this issue inside the organisation, HR managers may also create pertinent and effective stress management policies, engage with employees about it, and raise awareness of the best ways to manage stress. Therefore, it is essential to offer training and resources for managing stress in the workplace in order to reduce workplace stress and increase employee retention, engagement, and productivity.
Building resilience in employees
Building employee resilience is a successful stress management tactic in the workplace. Employers desperately need resilient workers who can manage stress over the long term, especially in these unpredictable times. In the workplace, developing resilience might entail overcoming obstacles and learning from mistakes. Employers can help employees develop resilience by fostering a resilient culture, offering support, and pledging to deal with resilience.
Employers can assist workers in developing resilience skills by offering training and resources, such as stress management, positive thinking, and problem-solving. Employees’ resilience can also be increased by finding significance in their work and believing that their efforts are making a difference. Employers can support employees in developing resilience by providing flexible programmes that fit their lifestyles, such as online, in-person, and hybrid courses5. Building employee resilience is essential for managing workplace stress and enhancing productivity, engagement, and employee retention.
Stressful situations happen at work. We all get that from time to time. But when those stress levels do arrive in the working environment it’s key to address it as soon as it possible so as not to cause any unnecessary stress or excessive pressure.
Here at Gallantium we highly recommend seeking advice from the UK’s Health and Safety Executive website. Stressed workers can have a preexisting mental health problem, suffer an adverse reaction people, which impacts their physical health and gives them mood swings.
By enabling these stressed workers to relieve stress and develop good relationships you do the right thing as a human first, but even in the business context it is shown to drive better business results and outcomes.