To mark National Stress Awareness Day (2 November) organisations have an opportunity to recognise and tackle workplace stress
Workplace stress can affect employees across a wide range of industries, roles and organisational hierarchies.
While a certain level of stress can serve as a motivating factor, prolonged or excessive stress can lead to adverse physical and mental health outcomes, diminished productivity and an increase in employee turnover.
To foster a healthier, more productive work environment, it’s essential to identify and address workplace stress effectively.
Recognising workplace stress
Construction workers face significant stress due to their demanding work environment, which can lead to several different physical and mental health issues.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, employees experiencing stress may exhibit a range of physical symptoms, including frequent headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, sleep disturbances, digestive issues and an increased susceptibility to illness. These physical manifestations often serve as early warning signs.
Emotional indicators of workplace stress can be equally telling. The Mental Health Foundation suggests looking out for signs such as irritability, mood swings, anxiety, feelings of being overwhelmed or helpless, decreased concentration and a general decline in job satisfaction.
These emotions can have a significant impact on an employee’s overall wellbeing and performance.
Stress can manifest through observable behavioural changes. Watch for signs such as increased absenteeism, withdrawal from social interactions with colleagues, a noticeable decline in work performance and productivity, and alterations in eating or drinking habits. These changes may reflect an employee’s struggle with workplace stress.
Addressing workplace stress
Thankfully there are several steps employers can take to tackle workplace stress. Some examples include:
- Promote open communication – Creating an atmosphere of trust and non-judgement is vital for fostering open communication in the workplace. Encourage employees to voice their concerns, ideas and feelings without fearing retribution. By doing so, you empower your workforce and build a foundation of transparency and mutual respect.
- Set clear expectations – Ambiguity in roles and responsibilities can be a breeding ground for stress and confusion. To alleviate this, it is important to provide employees with a clear understanding of their tasks, objectives and performance expectations. Ensure they have access to the necessary resources, training and constructive feedback to help them meet these expectations.
- Offer employee assistance programmes (EAPs) – This can be an effective tool for supporting employees dealing with personal or work-related stressors. To make these programmes effective, ensure that all employees are not only aware of their existence but also feel comfortable and encouraged to use them when needed.
- Consider stress management workshops – This can help to equip employees with the tools to manage stress. These workshops can cover a wide range of techniques, including mindfulness, meditation, time management and relaxation exercises. Educate your employees about the importance of self-care practices and stress reduction strategies.
- Foster a supportive work culture – Create an environment that values teamwork, collaboration and employee wellbeing. This could include recognising and rewarding employees for their contributions, whether big or small, and promoting positive social interactions through team-building activities.
- Lead by example – Leaders and managers should exemplify the behaviours and habits they expect from their employees. Be role models for healthy work habits and stress management. Display empathy, active listening and understanding in your interactions with employees.
Healthy work environment
Identifying and addressing workplace stress is vital for promoting a healthy, productive and harmonious work environment.
By recognising the signs of stress, encouraging open communication and implementing supportive measures, employers can reduce stress levels among their employees.
This, in turn, leads to a more satisfied, engaged and successful workforce, benefiting employees and the organisation as a whole.
Alex Minett is head of global new markets at CHAS.