With Stress Awareness Day on the 2nd November we wanted to share our insight behind the increasing levels of employees experiencing stress and offer ways you can effectively support your people.
What is stress?
Stress is essentiality the physical or emotional manifestation of a perceived lack of control around a situation.
We often recognise it physically with symptoms such as a tightening of the stomach, or feeling warm or sweaty, or in some cases an inability to think clearly. For some, this can feel like a mist or fog descending around our thought process.
Stress comes with many side effects and there are key signs employers can look out for when trying to understand if an employee is experiencing high levels of stress. Employees may be arriving later to work, taking more time off or show increased emotional reactions and less motivation.
6 examples of causes of workplace stress for employees*
- Unable to cope with the demands of their job
- Unable to control the way they do their work
- Don’t receive enough information or support
- Work based relationships
- Don’t understand their roles or responsibilities
- Not engaged when business is undergoing growth or change
The workplace is not the only reason your employees are stressed, people are living with compounded factors that cause stress such as the cost of living, isolated working, health worries family troubles etc.
The cost of stress on your business
If we translate this into our businesses, it's easy to see how an employee's performance could decrease in the short term, so if left unsupported, the long-term effects can be significant.
Over 76%* of employees are reporting moderate to high levels of stress and over 36.8 million working days being lost due to work related stress anxiety or depression, we know that the key is prevention and support within the workplace.
Your business can be impacted by a stressed workforce, your staff turnover will be higher, absences may increase, and performance may reduce, which can all in turn take its toll financially. Not to mention, company culture and morale can be significantly impacted within a workplace of stressed employees.
How you can help your employees with Stress
We sat down with Karl Bennet, our Wellbeing Director and EPEA Chairman, who discussed the most effective ways organisations can support their people with stress.
“There are many ways an employer can help people within their business who may for some reason be experiencing stress; most importantly though is communicating what support services are available for them should they feel they need help. These services could include external services such as an EAP or Occupational Health, or regular internal support such as encouraging regular breaks or talking with their managers or colleague.
“But what are the best services we can offer to our teams to ensure they feel valued and supported? With the vast array of wellbeing services purporting to be the answer, how can you be sure that the services you provide are going to give your employees what they need, while giving you a return on your investment?”
Providing access to an Employee Assistance Programme
EAPs are a great way to effectively support the wellbeing of your staff. Most EAPs provide expert support when your people need it most., with 24/7 telephone support available 365 days a year and access to face-to-face counselling, you can offer support for the life challenges your people are facing.
EAPs also have a clear return on investment, for every £1.00 spent on an EAP in the UK, employers have seen an average ROI of £10.85*.
In the past, EAPs have been promoted as clinical support for employees; access to counselling 24 hours of every day. While this is a fundamental part of EAPs, it suggests that EAPs are only valuable to those employees who have reached a point of crisis. The truth, of course, is that accessing any support is a positive first step.
That’s one of the key benefits at Vivup; ensuring that we are providing the right service, to the right person, at the right time. It’s the mantra of our Clinical and Operational teams. Today our customer may need to access our platform to support with issues around the cost of living, while tomorrow they may require support around an emotional need. When you have everything in one place, there is a sense of control for the user whenever they need it.”
Training Managers & Appointing Mental health champions
Training line managers can be one of the most effective investments for your business – particularly when it comes to mental health awareness. Studies have found that just three hours of mental health awareness training can promote improved attitudes about mental health and a higher motivation to promote mental wellbeing at work.
Many workplaces now have dedicated mental health champions, who are there to offer support and sign posting when employees need help. Certified courses will give your staff the tools to keep themselves and their colleagues healthy while preventing further issues from arising by building a supportive culture around mental health
Create the right workplace culture
When employees feel valued, supported, and connected to their colleagues, they are more likely to be engaged, productive, and loyal to their organisation. A company culture that allows your people to seek, support and communicate can reduce employee stress. This means more work done on time and increased staff motivation.
Provide tools for financial support
1 in 4 employees say that financial stress impacts their performance at work. Only 20% of employees believe their workplace supports their financial wellbeing (CIPD). There are many ways you can offer financial support for your people aside from a pay rise. These include offering savings and discounts, empowering your people to spread the cost, offering helpful advice and more. You can find out more about financial support here
Promoting flexible working and regular breaks
With 82% of workers wanting to take up some form of flexible working, it’s clear that the tide is turning towards a more flexible approach to working hours.
There are many ways you can offer flexible working and will of course need to fit within your business parameters. You can explore having specific time blocked out for employees to take time out, an hour a day for no calls, earlier finishes where possible and ensuring people take lunch breaks.
Ensuring regular 1-1's and open communication
With many people now working from home it can be more difficult to notice signs of someone experiencing high levels of stress. A recent study shows that nearly 40% of global employees said that no one in their company had asked them if they were doing OK. Regular 1-1's offer an opportunity for employees to speak up about any concerns, discuss their workload, shed insight on any challenges they are facing and get support if they need it.
Understand your employees stress drivers through regular surveys, questionnaires and feedback mechanics
Measuring wellbeing in the workplace is a very powerful exercise that businesses can undertake. Conducting an employee wellbeing survey will help you benchmark the overall wellbeing of your team and understand any issues.
An employee wellbeing survey is a set of questions relating to happiness, work-life balance, productivity, and satisfaction. These can be answered anonymously and offer an option for an employee to speak to their manager or HR department if they would like to.
Constantly review your wellbeing strategy
Workplace wellbeing is constantly changing as is the environment of your employees. Your wellbeing strategy might be right for now, but with new stress drivers appearing on employees at different times of their life – it's important to constantly review and adapt your wellbeing strategy accordingly. Your internal data and wellbeing surveys can contribute to any changes that need to be made.
The benefits to your business
A happier healthier, less stressed workforce has huge benefits to your business. Once you have taken the steps to effectively support your people with their wellbeing you can benefit from:
- Increased productivity & engagement
- Reduced absenteeism and staff turnover
- Loyal and happy employees
- A return on Investment for wellbeing
To find out more about how we can help visit www.vivupbenefits.co.uk