My thoughts on current news: stress and well-being
We have been looking out for HR stories in the news which tie in with the themes of our latest HR Forums and Employment Source relating to employee health and well being. We've picked the key news stories to keep you updated and have summarised the highlights below.
Managing sickness absence
Whilst employers are often keen to maintain watertight sickness absence policies, this article considers the potential negative impact on employees by way of “presenteeism”. On average, UK workers took just over 4 days off sick last year; however, whilst a seemingly impressive statistic, this may also mean that genuinely sick employees will refrain from taking a day off for fear of being disciplined. As a result, this could have a detrimental impact on productivity, staff morale and long-term health. Therefore, employers need to try and develop practical solutions to deal with sickness absences; for example, by scheduling return to work interviews to discuss the reason for the absence and how to alleviate the issues in future, perhaps by making reasonable adjustments.
Stress affecting employee engagement
This article focuses on the increasing need for employers to implement a wellbeing programme or strategy in order to promote employee engagement. A company’s profitability largely depends on the productivity of its workforce and optimum results can only be achieved by motivating employees to fulfil their potential and work to the best of their ability. This article suggests that senior staff seem to maintain a far more positive attitude than junior employees, therefore employers should perhaps consider putting more effort in to increase engagement of more junior team members. Employers could also undertake stress audits to assess which employees are more likely to suffer from stress, the reason why this is happening and how to address these issues moving forward.
Helping your team deal with stress
As outlined above, stress in the workplace can be a major issue for employers. This article however shows that this is not just because of the potentially detrimental impact on productivity, but also because it can lead to stress-related claims, including personal injury, discrimination and bullying and harassment. Managers are often the first to notice whether employees are stressed and will most likely be the initial point of contact for these individuals. As this article suggests, there are various precautionary measures that managers can take to recognise and minimise stress within their team i.e. by encouraging employees to take breaks whenever possible and ensuring that their workloads are manageable. They should also try and act as a suitable role model by taking breaks themselves, therefore setting standards to be followed. Providing employees with a support network may make a real difference, in both a personal and professional capacity.
How to relieve stress in the workplace
Given the impact of stress in the workplace, this article sets out three ways, or “hacks” to relieving the problems that this can cause to businesses. It suggests that often, employees will not even realise the pressure they are putting themselves under until it is too late and their health has already been affected by it. This article summarises three top tips for employees to relieve workplace stress – to breathe; relax the body; and take a technology break. These suggestions may sound simple enough, but it is surprising just how often people forget to put them into practice during a busy day at work. Sitting in front of a computer for hours on end without taking a break can be detrimental to your health and it could also distract you from your work. Employers ought to consider rolling out stress and wellbeing training sessions to all staff in order to encourage employees to successfully navigate these issues.
You may also be interested in reading our in-depth article about the cost of un-managed stress at work that explains employers legal responsibilities.