National Stress Awareness Day 2016 – Be Stress Free for Success
Wednesday 2nd November 2016 marks the 18th National Stress Awareness Day, a campaign highlighting the affects of stress on individuals and organisations.
But what is stress, why is it important and what can employers do to support their people and in turn performance?
According to the Health and Safety Executive and International Stress Management Association UK (ISMA), stress is the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand. These can come from different sources such as work or home, but where the combined affect is overwhelming, stress can occur.
And although the Flight or Fight response often associated with stress is not necessarily a bad thing as a one-off reaction, being continually in this state is.
Stress Management has never been more relevant for employers as recent research by the CIPD revealed that the number of people experiencing mental health problems whilst in employment has risen over the last five years – from a quarter to a third.
The latest estimates from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) also show that stress accounts for 35% of all work related ill health cases and 43% of all working days lost due to ill health.
With stress particularly prevalent in public service industries such as education, health and social care, public administration and defence, the study also found workload pressures, tight deadlines and a lack of managerial support as the main factors causing work related stress, depression or anxiety.
So alongside your duty of care to ensure your workforce is safe and healthy, working to reduce the adverse affects of stress can directly support the improved performance of your organisation - ensuring people are happy, engaged and productive.
As Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind explained in a recent CIPD report, “the twin goals of increasing levels of staff wellbeing and engagement should be a major priority for UK business leaders – you can’t have one without the other.”
Top tips for stress free success
- Stop it before it starts: there are many ways that you can ensure your workplace remains a stress-free zone. Consider implementing flexible working and work-life balance opportunities to help people manage busy lives and encourage team members to leave work on time with managers leading by example. Be aware of workplace bullying and aim to eliminate it completely. You can also look at your work environment – changes to lighting, air quality, noise and office layout can have a big impact.
- Recognise it when it happens: Be aware of the indicators of stress so that you can identify it in yourself and your team – and then take appropriate action to deal with it. These can include physiological indicators (such as headaches, tightness in muscles and joints, sleep disturbance and susceptibility to minor illness), psychological indicators (such as irritability, depression, anxiety and impaired memory) and also behavioural indicators (such as negativity, carelessness or listlessness).
- Identify the cause and remove it: Speak with the individual concerned in a relaxed environment and explore what is causing them to feel excessively stressed. As the research mentioned above found, top stress issues can include high workload and not feeling supported – areas that managers can help remedy.
If you want to find out more about stress in the workplace and what you can do to support your workforce, you can also explore these useful links and resources.
- Find out more about Stress Awareness Day and read ISMA’s Top Ten Stress Busting Tips on their website www.isma.org.uk
- Download the CIPD’s Employee Outlook: Focus on mental health in the workplace 2016 report
- Find out more about the Health and Wellbeing Award from Investors in People, a framework to support a workplace wellbeing approach for your organisation
- Download the Line Manager’s Resource from Mental Health First Aid England
- Visit the Health and Safety Executive's dedicated webpage on work related stress