April Stress Awareness Month: Supporting Employees and Reducing Stress Levels

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As part of Stress Awareness Month here are some industry expert opinions on how to reduce employee stress and how to determine the reasons for ever-increasing stress levels and understand what HR and business leaders can do to support their employees. Stress Awareness Month is a 30-day campaign dedicated to raising awareness of the causes and cures for our modern day stress epidemic.

According to a recent survey, two-thirds of the UK workforce is stressed at work at moderate to high levels. Although ‘stress’ implies different things to different individuals, as Richard Guy, Country Sales Manager at Ergotron, argues, “‘knowledge’ of it is still sorely absent in many working contexts.” Challenges manifest themselves in a variety of ways, whether it’s mental or physical stress, and they’re not necessarily visible to the rest of us.”

The complexity of hybrid work

It’s unsurprising that stress levels have risen and mental health has deteriorated as a result of the whirlwind of the last two years that everyone has experienced. Terry Storrar, Managing Director of Leaseweb UK, states, “To describe the events of the last two years as stressful is nothing short of an understatement.”

“People in a variety of occupations have had to make their way through unforeseen and unpleasant conditions, which has taken its toll.” It’s no wonder that finding time to look after mental health has slipped down the priority list due to the demand to facilitate and support hybrid and remote working and keep organizations up and running no matter what.”

Employers must be careful of their employees’ mental health as we adjust to life post-pandemic, whether they return to the office full-time, go entirely remote, or embrace hybrid working.

With more than 80% of employees choosing hybrid working as the preferred method. Hybrid working can be unpleasant for many people as the lines between work and home blur. Work issues are no longer confined to the workplace, and the temptation to check emails or complete a few extra chores after hours can be very strong.

Today’s digital communication and collaboration tools make it impossible to switch off from work-related events that are constantly pinged directly to our devices. Employers must quickly address the difficulties confronting home employees, who are increasingly feeling pressured to be available online at all times – and to accomplish more each day.

Take a break and discuss it

HR and corporate leaders should implement some – or ideally all – of the following suggestions to avoid unsustainable workloads and stress levels.

A critical first step should be to provide training for line managers, assisting them in identifying probable causes and indicators of stress, as well as successfully managing workloads to ensure that employees are not overburdened. As the workplace evolves, stress management training that provides all employees with the tools and techniques they need to deal with stress will be advantageous.

“Employers should develop a culture where employees can openly communicate their feelings without fear of  judgement,” says Rob Shaw, SVP Global Sales at Fluent Commerce. “Sharing online resources, having dedicated chat platforms where employees may communicate their problems, and having a licensed Mental Health First Aider are all ways good investments to support employees and demonstrate your commitment to their well-being.”

On the other hand, reducing employee stress does not have to involve large investments in external resources. “Small acts may have a great impact,” says Dave Birchall, Node4’s Chief People Officer.

“Employees should take breaks and have the opportunity to switch off from their work for a few minutes, whether it’s simply inquiring how someone is and how their day is going or encouraging teams to take time for a regular coffee break.” Make sure your workers take regular ‘’pit stops’’ during the day, taking five minutes between meetings or organising 45-minute meetings rather than hour-long meetings to give them time to mentally switch between jobs, especially if they are largely “screen-focused.”

“Practicing mindfulness is one way organizations may handle workplace stress,” says Anne Tiedemann, SVP People & Investor Relations at Glasswall. “It encourages us to acquire a balanced mental state by taking time out of our day to concentrate on the present now.” It helps employees reset their brains and let go of any tension that has built up when they take this time for themselves, even if it’s only five minutes a day.”

People are at their best when they are well-rested and not chronically agitated. That’s something to keep in mind on a daily basis, not just during Stress Awareness Month.

See how HealthBoxHR can help your company support your employees’ mental health with our Mental Health Management feature!

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