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Tackling Workplace Stress: Simple Solutions for SMEs

Sinead Murphy Mar 21, 2024 11:05:35 AM

Tackling Workplace Stress: Simple Solutions for SMEs  

In a world driven by deadlines and responsibilities, stress is an unwelcome yet unavoidable part of life. But with our modern society becoming ever-more conscious of mental health, employees are taking a stand to prioritise their wellbeing and achieve better work/life balance.  

When asked what makes them happy, a significant 49% of staff revealed that a sense of harmony between their personal and professional lives was the most important factor. And when employees are happy, they are more productive, present, and engaged within their roles.  

On the other hand, a stressed workforce can signal big problems for businesses of all sizes. With employees nearly three times more likely to leave their current employer due to stress, it can’t be denied that stress presents a key issue for HR leaders.  

  • 33% of staff say that their productivity is impacted by high levels of stress  
  • 35% of employees have strongly considered switching jobs because of stress  
  • 46% of HR leaders cite stress as the cause of half of their annual turnover   

As such, it’s vital that employers prioritise stress management in the workplace. As the foundation of your organisation, employees need to be supported both mentally and physically if they are to perform to their fullest potential.  

This issue is even more pressing for SME organisations. The reduced size of an SME team means that each employee contributes a significant amount to the organisation – a contribution that many SMEs cannot function without. 


The Impact of Workplace Stress  

If an employee is suffering from excessive levels of stress – either at work or at home - their behaviour or performance might start to change. They may feel more tired than usual, which in turn could lead to irritability, low mood, more errors, and a negative impact to their problem-solving skills. This tiredness may also make them more reactive to situations and contribute to conflict between their peers.   

Once these factors start to compound, an employee is more likely to need time off work as stress makes its natural progression into more severe mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. In fact, 13.7 million working days are lost each year in the UK because of work-related stress, creating an annual cost to the economy of £28.3 billion. 


Stress in SME Organisations 

For SMEs, the impact of turnover, reduced productivity, and absenteeism caused by stress can have a much greater impact. When your HR department consists of one person, for example, losing them can have a detrimental effect on the wider business.  

In smaller organisations, employees often have a broad range of responsibilities. This means that losing them can impact many areas - and finding the right candidate to fill that role can be challenging. 

  • 33% of SME employees have called in sick because of work-related stress 
  • 43% have moved jobs because of unaddressed work-related frustrations  

While stress can have significant consequences for SMEs, many don’t put measures in place to mitigate stress until they begin to scale up. In order to effectively combat stress, employers need to embed preventative measures into their people strategies to support their staff before they reach crisis point.   


Developing Stress-Busting Strategies  

Taking the time to identify some of the key causes of stress can be a great way to understand what measures can be taken. For example, over 50% of Gen Z-ers say that financial issues are their main cause of stress, while Baby Boomers believe health concerns and caregiving responsibilities to be their main stressors.  

By understanding the different causes of stress amongst staff, employers can ensure that the steps they put in place can support the diverse needs of their workforce during every life stage.  


Support mental wellbeing in the workplace – Vivup’s Employee Assistance Programme provides expert in-the-moment support when staff need it most. With a 24/7 telephone support helpline available 365 days a year and access to face-to-face counselling, employers can be sure that assistance is on hand for any stress-related issues their employees are facing.   


Promote a culture of recognition - It’s no secret that a happy workplace is a more productive workplace. In fact, 75% of employees believe they would feel more satisfied in their jobs if they received at least one form of positive recognition per month - and 63% would not look for new roles if their work was consistently recognised.  

Whether it’s a reward for hitting a company target, a long service award, or a simple thank you for a job well done, we can help your business increase employee engagement, boost team morale, and give your staff the appreciation they deserve with our very own in-house recognition and reward app: Vivup highfive.  

The broad appeal of Vivup highfive can support your organisation with: 

  • Reducing absenteeism 
  • Supporting your staff by recognising achievements and celebrating success 
  • Attracting and retaining talent 
  • Growing a positive workplace culture 


Provide financial support solutions - Despite money worries affecting 47% of UK employees, financial wellbeing is the least common area included in HR strategies. We can help you address financial stress within your workforce with access to a wide range of savings from the nation’s leading retailers. Our Lifestyle Savings benefit not only helps staff enjoy more of what life has to offer for less, but also enables them to save on everyday essentials such as their supermarket shop, utility bills, motoring costs, and more.  


Offer flexible working opportunities - By giving staff more flexibility, SME leaders won’t just be attracting a greater pool of talent their business. They’ll also benefit from a workforce who are more engaged, motivated, productive, and present because their people are able to achieve a better work/life balance. Research shows that flexible working opportunities can help to:    

  • Tackle burnout  
  • Give employees more control over their personal time  
  • Attract top talent, with 87% of people wanting to work flexibly    
  • Boost revenue by 43% and productivity by 20%   
  • Reduce staff turnover by 87%  
  • Drive motivation, with 9 in 10 employees considering flexible working to be a key motivator  


Constantly review your wellbeing strategy - To get the most out of your wellbeing solution, it’s vital to drill down and discover the unique wants and needs of your workforce. You could do this by sending out an anonymous survey, hosting an informal talk session where employees are encouraged to share their thoughts, or creating drop boxes for staff to leave feedback and suggestions.  

By doing this regularly, you can learn what’s really important to your people and create a wellbeing strategy that not only addresses key issues, but also appeals to the diverse needs of your workforce.  


How Vivup Can Help  

For around the same price of a cup of coffee for your employees each month, you can provide the perfect employee benefits and wellbeing package to support your people – and help keep workplace stress at bay. Get in touch to see how Vivup's solutions can help to make a difference to your SME organisation today.