Work-related stress leads to 13.7m lost days

  • Occupational Health
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

April is stress awareness month and research suggests nine in 10 adults have experienced high or extreme pressure or stress in the last year

Whilst not all stress is a bad thing, for some it’s a motivator, it can get too much and have serious consequences such as anxiety, depression, poor performance and productivity and lead to low retention levels.

It can also have physical symptoms such as heart disease, back pain and IBS, and absences from work. Each year, 13.7 million working days are lost in the UK because of work-related stress and poor mental health, costing the economy £28.3 billion. Managing stress is therefore beneficial all round.

There is plenty that can be done to alleviate and prevent harmful stress at work. A range of measures is best, as different things work for different employees. Creating a culture that promotes mental and physical wellbeing and that enables individuals to recognise and control their own stress triggers can be the best defence to stress at work.  

An employee mental health plan can be designed to prevent and treat stress. This can include how to recognise stress at work and highlighting what support is available and how it can be accessed.

Putting into place measures to manage stress at work isn’t a ‘one-time’ event, however, and simply having the plan isn’t enough. Stress management should be approached proactively and be reviewed and adjusted regularly to ensure it continues to meet the needs of those it is designed to help.

 This could be by regularly checking in with employees and developing individual wellbeing plans, to help them and their manager recognise what good wellbeing looks like for them and what their signs are that it is at risk of harm.

 

Workload monitoring is also important to ensure it is reasonable and achievable. Action should be taken where this isn’t the case, such as by helping the employee to re-prioritise their work and extending deadlines to help them get their stress under control.

Other ways to manage stress can be discouraging excessive overtime or out-of-hours work, and by reminding employees to book and take annual leave. Senior employees can lead by example by making a point of taking their lunch break every day and maintaining a healthy work life balance. Not only will this benefit them individually, but it also shows that wellbeing is taken seriously.  

Mental health training can build up individual knowledge of stress and resilience to it by helping employees to recognise their own stress triggers and coping mechanisms.

Providing access to an Employee Assistance Programme can also help with managing personal life stressors through providing information and advice on non-work-related matters that can cause stress.

Stress happens all year, not just during Stress Awareness Month. But this is a good time to reflect on the measures already in place to manage stress at work, and to think about what more can be done to combat it.

It can also be an opportunity to remind employees what is already in place to deal with stress, and of the importance of looking after their own wellbeing.

Visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like How can we prevent work-related stress for our employees?

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