With work absences costing the economy around £14bn per year and mental health conditions emerging as the single most widespread cause of long-term absence.
According to a survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) earlier this year, as an HR professional my mind turns to preventative measures when I think about how to tackle this.
When coupled with the recent figures from the health charity Mind revealing that more than half of adults admit to drinking after work and 14 per cent saying they even drink through the day due to workplace stress, I feel a responsibility to work with the organisations that I provide outsourced HR services for to keep them legal and out of court for personal injury claims, while supporting the individual who may be suffering.
We have all read the research that gets quoted daily citing the main causes of work-related stress being work pressures, work related bullying and lack of management support. We all know that this costs the organisation in terms of their financial performance, turnover or ability to adapt to the needs of the current economic climate.
So what can we do to help? I believe it’s about two things – building resilience and having in place great HR practices to ensure managers can deal with workplace stress more effectively.
Such HR practices would include:
- Regular risk assessments and appraisals with staff – that is a chance to spot an issue before it develops and to identify stressors and put in place actions to support
- Tackling the management approach to stress – this is about making it less of a stigma to admit you are struggling; having open management communication channels and actually tackling workload issues, rather than sweeping them under the carpet with the words of ‘it will be ok’
- Encouraging employees to seek medical help – if they have a problem to actually confront it and seek the true support they need
- Provision of a mentoring system – get people together, where they can share experiences, bounce ideas off and realise they aren’t the only ones
- Having a helpline and counselling for employees – having an employee assistance problem can reduce an organisation’s risks; not entirely but certainly support any potential claim management
It’s about the company ensuring there’s a balance between the workload and resources; being able to spot signs of work-related stress and being supportive rather than dismissive when they do.
And I wasn’t being flippant about building resilience to help combat stress either! Being resilient isn’t just about how you deal with the big life events, it is also about handling the day-to-day events, challenges and conflicts life and work present us. We can’t necessarily remove the challenges but we can minimise their impact. Ultimately, more resilient people deal with stress more effectively. We run a programme on how to develop personal resilience in organisations and it always goes down a storm – the staff feel the company are investing time and money in helping them – surely that’s worth more than just the cash to pay for it?
So how would you suggest tackling work place stress instead? For more help and advice on such delicate matters, or details of our next resilience course, contact us at www.threedomsolutions.co.uk or follow us on twitter @3domSolutions