The HSE defines stress as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them”. Stress can be triggered in a variety of ways; things in the workplace and things in someone’s personal life. A certain amount of pressure at work can be a good thing and can result in improved performance and job satisfaction – many people do perform better under pressure. However, the key is being able to identify when the pressure is too much and is causing stress.
Several people can cope very well with stress and due to this it can often be difficult to see until it is too late. Some may have the view that not being able to deal with stress is a sign of weakness and therefore avoid raising it to anyone and instead continue to operate the best they can. This is when stress can become unhealthy and can also sometimes lead to certain illnesses such as anxiety, depression, heart issues and strokes. It is important that companies take the appropriate steps to identify and manage the impact of stress and to try to prevent it as much as possible.
Some key indicators of stress in the workplace are;
- Lower performance levels
- Mistakes being made
- Reduced motivation / commitment
- Being oversensitive, moody or irritable
- Working excessive hours
- A change in normal behaviour
- Inability to make decisions / sudden lack of confidence
- Change of habits e.g. skipping lunch, being late, not interacting with work colleagues
At 1850 we believe that all companies have a duty of care to their employees to reduce the chance of them being subjected to unreasonable pressure levels. It is normal and necessary that businesses will go through change and this can sometimes have a negative impact on employees, this cannot always be avoided. However, the way the company goes about managing and implementing the change will directly impact the level of stress and upset caused to employees. It is possible to go through a difficult and upsetting change programme with an employee not being happy at the outcome but still being grateful at the way they were treated throughout. This is what all companies should aim for.
The impact of stress to a business can be huge so it is in their interest to take positive steps to manage and alleviate it not only as a caring employer to their staff but also in the interest of their business and the bottom line. The cost of stress can be significant both in terms of absence and having to cover employees who may be away from work, and also in terms of loss of productivity and output from employees who are still present but are struggling.
Do you think you are doing the best you can to manage and alleviate stress in your workplace? Are your managers fully trained and supported in how to deal with it and how to effectively manage change? Please get in touch with us to see how we can help you.