April 2019 has been National Stress Awareness Month, providing a great opportunity for us all to review our approach to dealing with stress at work. Unfortunately, even as mental health in the workplace has become more and more openly discussed, there is still a stigma attached to stress. This stigma can often make people reluctant to talk about stress, in fear of wrongly being seen as ‘weak’ or not taken seriously. This, in turn, can lead to further physical or mental health problems such as high blood pressure, anxiety or depression. Therefore, Triple Three Solutions wants to reiterate the importance of dealing with stress in the workplace and consider how you, as an employer, can help. In this blog, we will be exploring the ways in which you can help to reduce work-related stress in your business. You may ask: why should you do this? Before anything else, employers have a legal duty to protect staff from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and subsequently acting on it. However, legal obligations aside, there are many other reasons that you should choose to prioritise combating work-related stress in your business.

Employee Wellbeing:

Looking out for your workforce’s mental & physical health and wellbeing is extremely important.  In a previous blog, we gave HR advice on mental health & wellbeing at work.  Here we addressed some of the ways that stress in work can affect people and gave some basic tips on how employers can help. Creating a strong, positive approach to stress and mental health within your company benefits both your employees and your business for a number of reasons. Productivity, absence and office relationships can all be strongly affected by stress in the workplace.

Stress Related Absence:

Speaking of absence, according to the 2018 CIPD survey in partnership with Simplyhealth, nearly 40% of UK businesses have seen an increase in stress-related absence over the past year. This alarming statistic can be changed if we all make the effort to tackle stress-related issues in the workplace before they become a bigger problem.

Attracting New Workers:

Ensuring that your business has great ethics when it comes to mental health & well-being instantly appeals to any potential new employees. Nobody wants to work somewhere where their mental health won’t be taken seriously. Having strong policies and procedures in place shows both existing and potential employees that you value them as much more than just a workforce.

How to deal with stress at work:

Workload pressures, lack of support and workplace relationships are just some of the potential causes of work-related stress that could lead to stress-related absence. Identifying the cause and offering solutions are the first steps in reducing stress in your workplace.

Reduce Stigma:

Open conversations about stress and mental health can help to increase awareness and reduce and stigmas in your workplace. This can also encourage communication, allowing staff who may be struggling to feel more comfortable coming forward. Why not think about workshops designed to help your employees identify and cope with stressful situations. Often stress at work is symptomatic of something else that may be going on in someone’s life.

Communicate:

As well as employees being able to identify and manage their own stresses, managers need to be trained on how to recognise, approach and deal with employees who may be experiencing work-related stress. Once a problem has come to your attention, you should meet with the employee/s to discuss the matter further and create a plan of action. We note that it may be advisable to involve Human Resources (or a more senior employee) during any meetings at this stage, as the stress may be related to the employee-manager relationship.

We can help!

According to the Telegraph, stress in the workplace counts for more than half of the working days lost due to illness in GB. A staggering 15.4 million days were lost to stress in 2017/2018 according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  We had one client tell us that ‘it doesn’t cost too much as they only pay SSP and the first few days aren’t paid anyway’ – but we’ve already mentioned the impact on colleague relationships and productivity. Absence costs, however you cut the cake. How can Triple Three Solutions help you to keep these costs to a minimum? With years of HR experience helping companies and their people through difficult situations, Triple Three Solutions would love to help you to help your employees. We can assist in developing or improving your business’ approach to stress in the workplace. We work with health and wellbeing professionals in supporting our clients to find really practical solutions to overcome stress in the workplace: getting to the root cause and then analysing how best to find the right solution. Sometimes a ‘sticking plaster’ or short term fix just won’t do. To find out more, or for any other HR advice, please feel free to get in touch. Call us on 0333 050 3330 or send an email to lisa@triplethreesolutions.co.uk.