Three invisible hazards that weaken your workforce

  • Health & Safety
woman looking stressed at desk
Man posing confidently

Stephen Galley, Director of SafeCheck

(Last updated )

You might already know too well the risks of operating machinery or handling toxic chemicals. But even if you don’t, there are hazards in any work environment. And while you might do what you can to stop your employee from having an accident, don’t forget that not all hazards are physical. Some are psychosocial.

In plain English, these are the emotional hazards that can affect your staff (and be just as damaging.) So when you’re looking at your risks, here are three that could be hiding just out of plain sight…

Stress

Stress might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a hazard – but it is.

Everyone gets stressed from time to time but chronic work stress can become a big problem. A stressed employee may be more prone to making mistakes, causing accidents, and confrontations with colleagues – all of which are bad for business.

It’s important to remember that stress is a drain – both mentally and physically. And studies have cited it as a reason for staff experiencing mental health issues, taking more time off work, and handing in their notice.

So if you think your employee might be experiencing work-related stress, it’s important to address it. Whether it’s their workload, the work environment or something else, you need to have an honest conversation.

That’s what makes a regular check-in so important. You should be able to make changes to suit your employee where appropriate and evaluate their working arrangement.

And if you think you might have a wider issue of stress in your workplace, it might be worth carrying out a specific stress risk assessment.

Burnout

Stress can easily lead to burnout if left unchecked. And burnout is another emotional hazard that’s hard to come back from.

Burnout is more than being just a bit tired. It usually happens when an employee feels a combination of overworked, overstressed, and underappreciated.

A burnt out employee can feel like they have no energy or motivation to work. They might also become resentful of their colleagues or manager. This can make it more likely for disagreements to happen.

It’s important to keep an eye on staff who might be showing signs of burnout. Missed deadlines, underperformance and emotional outbursts could indicate that your employee has hit a wall.

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Boreout

On the opposite end of the scale, an employee might experience boreout.

Boreout can happen when an employee feels unchallenged by the work they do, or they don’t have enough work to fill their time. This can lead them to become increasingly bored, unmotivated and disengaged.

An employee who feels their company isn’t using them to their full potential might disconnect. And like burnt out employees, staff who spend their days doing the same monotonous tasks might also start to feel resentful and look for other jobs.

However, there are ways to help you avoid losing an employee to boreout – communication being the number one.

You and your employee should have a clear idea about what your employee’s role is and how they contribute to your business. Setting goals and targets can help motivate staff and help them build on their skills. Plus, it keeps them doing the work they find the most interesting.

Your employee should have every opportunity to play to their strengths and develop on their weaker areas.

And when your employee can do what they enjoy the most and see how they can progress, they’ll be less likely to disengage.

Check if your workplace meets essential safety standards

With SafeCheck, you can outsource your workplace Health & Safety audit to the UK's leading specialists - for only £295

Curb emotional hazards by…

There are steps you can take to help reduce the impact of emotional hazards on your staff, like:

  • Offering mental health first aid training

Appointing mental health first aiders can help to promote positive mental health across your workforce and give your employee confidential support.

  • Evaluating your targets and setting realistic goals

Make sure you regularly evaluate your targets and deadlines for staff to make sure they’re reasonable to achieve in the timeframe. This can help to reduce the risk of overly stressed employees working over their hours and burning themselves out to meet unrealistic goals.

  • Monitoring your rota system and setting clear boundaries

Practice healthy workplace boundaries and encourage staff to take time off when they need to. If your staff regularly work overtime or come to work even when they’re ill, they might be struggling to manage a healthy work-life balance.

  • Practicing good communication and reviewing workloads

Ultimately, good communication is key. Maintain open channels of communication with your staff and help them feel comfortable coming to you about any issues they might be having. If they need support, they should feel able to ask for it.

And if you need want expert support identifying your workplace hazards, find out more with Safecheck.

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