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stressed man working

According to statistics released by HSE, in 2015/16, stress accounted for 37% of all work related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health.

Stress in the workplace is a real threat to businesses, and a real concern for all business leaders.

What can you do to support your workforce, and ensure that stress and anxiety aren’t damaging their performance or wellbeing, enabling them to enjoy their role?

The main work factors cited by respondents as causing work related stress, depression or anxiety (LFS) were workload pressures, including tight deadlines and too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support. From the HSE report http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress/

Five ways to reduce stress in your business

  • Listen

  • Converse

  • Agree goals

  • Allow for downtime

  • Control

Listen:

Your employees aren’t quiet about the issues that matter to them – including any complaints that they have. But too many employers aren’t hearing these concerns in time, and their workforce are disengaging, suffering and living with increasing stress.

Your leaders need to listen – to allow the team to come to them with concerns, and to really hear those concerns; if they aren’t valid, reassure your employee and explain the situation to them. If they are valid you can discuss the ways these concerns can be tackled, as a business and as a team.

Converse:

You aren’t just there as a leader to give out orders and wait for results – every step to success is a team effort – so make time in the working week for team meetings and let the conversation flow both ways, so that everyone is involved in decision making and engaged with the overall business goals.

This conversation also allows people to let out concerns and discuss things in a safe environment, which can help people to deal with any issues that they are having before they build to boiling point.

Agree goals:

When you’re setting targets for your employees, don’t simply hand them a list of goals and put the pressure on them to deliver.

As a leader, you need to sit down with each member of the team and work out what goals are realistic, what takes priority, and build a plan that both you and the employee are engaged with. This should be followed up with progress reports and discussions, and not just left to hover over someone until the deadline hits.

Stress in relation to targets is one of the biggest issues – and though we all know targets have to be set, and met, it’s important that those targets are mutually agreed; not only does it mean you’re aware of where someone is throughout the process, it also means that they can come to you before an issue is significant, because you’re a team working towards the same goals, and if things aren’t working you can make a plan to improve before any deadlines hit.

Allow for downtime:

Workers who slave at their desk for long hours, skipping lunch and staying in the office long after close of business may seem like they’re just committed – but it’s a terrible strain; one of the roles of great leadership is to ensure the health and wellbeing of your workforce – and that means reasonable working hours, proper breaks and time away from the desk, and a reasonable work/life balance that allows for a personal life.

Control:

One of the biggest contributing factors is an employee feeling that they have no control over their career or position in the company.

Leaders aren’t supposed to be dictators – and no employee is going to survive a workplace in which they have no autonomy.

Regular meetings with your team mean that you can work together on a long-term career path, setting out the goals and hopes that the employee has for their time in the company, and you can look at ways to develop their skills and experience in order to support their professional growth.

This not only means that employees are happier, and heard, but that they will be far more engaged with and committed to your company, more loyal employees, and more likely to stay with your organisation long-term, as you’ve supported their development and will benefit from these new skills.

High levels of stress in the workplace can lead to:

  • Poor decision-making.
  • An increase in mistakes which in turn may lead to more customer or client complaints. This in turn is likely to produce more stress.
  • Increased sickness and absence.
  • High staff turnover.
  • Poor employee/work place relations.

If your organisation is looking for ways to better engage with the workforce, and to reduce stress in times of complex change, or just ensure that your employees are happier in their position, our leadership development programmes will help your leaders by raising their self-awareness and improving on their communication with their teams.

Contact our consulting team today and book a no obligation conversation face-to-face or over the phone about your leadership development requirement – call 01234 757575