Many people cope with work-related stress differently to others. Some people thrive on it, whereas others would go to extreme lengths to completely avoid it. Either way, stress is something that is commonly related to the workplace and although stress itself isn’t classed as an illness it can lead to more serious health-related issues and often has a huge domino effect on the workplace and how you operate within it.
Prolonged and persistent stress is often the cause of mental health problems and a lot of the time it can also lead to physical illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, headaches and gastrointestinal problems.
In fact, it is so common that one in four people in the UK is predicted to experience a mental health problem at some point in their life, be it down to stress or something unrelated, and as a result, this is costing the UK economy an estimated £26 billion each year.
With the current economic state as it is, it has become more and more vital to reduce the amount of sickness absence taken in the workplace and as an employer, you have a duty of care to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all workers under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This also means that you have a legal responsibility to carry out risk assessments that can measure the risk of stress within the workplace.
Sadly, many employers do not consider work-related stress to be so strongly linked to poor health and well-being, which is why many workers suffer and therefore have to take time off sick.
In this case, managing work-related stress isn’t only relevant to individuals who want to decrease their stress levels, it also applies to employers who need to tackle work-related stress in order to enhance productivity and decrease sickness absences, not to forget to abide by the law.
A lot of the time the prevention of harmful stress at work is all down to good management systems rather than simply offering support in the form of counselling. Sometimes it can help to talk things through, but if the work environment is the thing making you ill and nothing has changed when you go back it can become a vicious circle that nobody will benefit from.
To help your workers as an employer or manager it is best to identify the problems first and then decide which action to take that will help lessen the levels of work-related stress. Below are a few examples that should explain this process and how it can work:
Pinpointing the problem: Some workers struggle to cope with high demands if they have low control over their own work.
Action to solve the problem: As an employer it can be hard to trust employers with important jobs but if you see they are suffering due to low control try to give them more control over the job in hand and if this is not possible be sure to support them as this alone can reduce the impact of high demands and low control.
As you can see there are ways that you can actively help to reduce the levels of stress within the workplace and hopefully you will now understand the importance of the role and responsibility you have when it comes to managing the well-being and health of your workers.