Work places can at times seem to be very stressful places. With the competition for jobs increasing and job security at an all time low, more companies are squeezing their workforce to perform more work for the same pay or reduced pay. Increased pressures on the workforce lead to poor staff performance, high staff sickness and long term sick leave.
Let’s look at some of the stats for workplace stress to put the problem in perspective:
1) Work-related mental ill health costs the UK economy up to £26 billion
every year through lost working days, staff turnover and lower
productivity (MIND, 2011, http://www.mind.org.uk/media/43719/EMPLOYERS_guide.pdf)
2) Workplace stress causes about 1 million US employees to miss work each day (AIS 2003)
3) Work related stress can double people’s risk of dying from heart disease ( BJM, Oct 2002)
4) Employee absenteeism due to depression costs US businesses between $33 Billion and $44 Billion per year (NCQA, Sept 2002)
As you can see from the stats above workplace stress is a serious and very expensive issue. However with the right tools in place and often small inexpensive changes workplace stress can be completely eliminated in many cases. Unfortunately as MIND point out employers often negate work stress and ignore it at their peril. I do think that attitudes in companies need to change and become more progressive and inclusive of providing both reactive and preventative wellbeing initiatives.
We know that poor manager and employee communication can lead to a workforce that does the bare minimum at that and will often take extended sickness leave. This does not make economic sense let alone business sense. A workplace where employers implement and have a solid wellbeing initiative in place see not only their business thrive and become more profitable but the cost of staff sickness drastically reduces. An excellent example of a good working model is google who are world leaders in staff wellbeing. I think every company can learn from google and should.
Some things that managers can do to assist employees are expertly covered in the MIND document at the end of this blog post. However some basic ideas are this:
1) First there must be an open culture where employees feel safe in that they won’t lose their jobs if they speak out and offer critical feedback. So as a manager you need to be a good listener and be seen to address issues that cause issues for staff.
2) Those employees that are struggling with their job may need more help and assistance, or they may be bored in the job they are doing. Ask yourself is this job maximising my employees skill set? Am I enhancing their skill set and does their work compliment this? Can I do something to make the job more interesting?
3) Look at targets and company objectives. I often think that the word target has a demoralising influence on employees. Set objectives instead, and make sure they are achievable, engaging and stimulate the workforce.
4) Give your employees the right tools to help them deal with stress and high work pressure.
5) Occupational Health and Counselling are reactive approaches and don’t deal with the root cause of workplace stress. Having a daily ‘supercharge your day’ session can help your employees get firmly focused on the day ahead and make the day really productive. In my corporate sessions I teach staff how to take responsibility for themselves and make them super productive.
6) Use the T.E.A.M model to lead by example. T.E.A.M stands for Together Everyone Achieves More. If you all work hard during the day and pull together then you can increase your ability to achieve more. If the manager looks like they are doing no work at all and they don’t encourage and support the employees then it sets a poor example to the employees.
7) Use regular staff appraisals not as a firing process or something to be viewed with dread but rather as a way to be proactive and preemptive in addressing poor work patterns. Look for the cause, address and deal with it, then move on. Blame culture leads to poor staff morale, high sickness rates and low business profitability. Be seen as understanding and motivating.
8) Remember the golden rule about leadership. Great leaders lead by example, poor leaders bully and intimidate to cover up their poor leadership. Lead as you would want to be lead. Bullying, harassment and degrading behaviour doesn’t belong in the workplace let alone society at large.
9) If you can’t manage your staff it is because you haven’t learnt how to communicate with them. We are creatures of habit and need clear directions to perform to the best of our abilities. Look at how you communicate with your staff, are you being condescending or motivating? Have you explained clearly to your staff why you are going down a certain direction? Have you explained why you have certain rules in place and are these rules fair?
10) Look at your company processes and make them employee friendly. The best way to do that is to involve employees in the decision making process.
11) Tackle Mental Health Issues positively. If Google the world’s leading company can do it, then your company and business can as well. There’s no excuse. Talk about the issues regarding stress and make sure you have both preventative and reactive measures in place. Services such as weekly drop in de-stress sessions can work wonders for staff. That is an example of a preventative policy
So there you have it. For a great resource on what you can do in your company check out:
2) For a low cost and simple alternative to reduce work stress and educate your workforce on how to better manage things like work stress, a difficult boss then consider letting your employees know about my work de-stress app. It is one of the best apps I have done and it includes a special 5 min tea break hypnosis de-stress session. It also includes an ebook educating your employees on how to deal with stress in the workplace and a further 14 minute hypnosis session to reinforce the 5min de-stress session. Get it here now: http://www.handster.com/product-review.php?id=255