Top ways to manage stress in the workplace

As the third lockdown continues, it is unsurprising that the state of the nation’s mental wellbeing is reported to be at a critical level.

Top ways to manage stress in the workplace

The mental health charity Mind declared that the coronavirus pandemic has triggered a ‘mental health emergency’, with more than half of adults (60%) saying their mental health has worsened during lockdown. And many individuals without previous experience of mental health problems have also experienced a decline in their mental health and wellbeing, according to Mind’s The mental health emergency - how has the coronavirus pandemic impacted our mental health? (2020) research.

Combine these heightened feelings of stress and anxiety with today’s fast-paced, always-on working culture, and it’s easy to understand why some employees can become overwhelmed. 

Many people are able to deal with their stress without long-lasting impacts. In the workplace, a stressful week leading up to a big presentation is relatively short-lived. But for some employees, stress can become a very real, chronic problem.

When this happens, stress can have significant effects on mental and physical health. And this can lead to time off work. Our research with the CIPD shows that stress-related absence has increased over the last year in nearly two-fifths of UK organisations. Plus, stress is a top-three cause of long-term sickness absence for almost half of employers.

What causes work-related stress?

So many factors can contribute to work-related stress. Just think about a normal working day and there are probably a number of things that can feel stressful. However, there are some significant causes of work-related stress that come up time and time again.

Two things consistently take the top spot as common causes of stress at work. These are workloads (for 60% of organisations), and management style (for 41%). Both findings highlight the influence that line managers can have on feelings of stress and overall mental wellbeing.

Often under pressure from the top and bottom, managers have an important role to play in delegating effectively and building good relationships with their teams to make sure workloads are manageable.

What can we do to tackle stress at work?

Encouragingly, more and more employers are actively doing something to manage stress. Over the past five years, we’ve seen the number grow from just over half in 2015, to almost three-quarters in 2020. Yet despite this positive trend, a third of organisations who say that stress-related absence has increased over the last year, are not doing anything to tackle workplace stress.

It’s critical that businesses put action plans in place to help employees stress less. Here are some of the most common methods organisations use to identify and reduce stress in the workplace:

  1. Flexible working. More than two-thirds of employers use flexible working options or improved work-life balance to tackle workplace stress. Flexibility can give employees greater control over their working lives. It allows them to fit work around personal commitments, which might otherwise cause stress.
  2. Employee assistance programmes. For 65% of organisations, Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) form part of the toolkit for addressing stress. With confidential and impartial advice, EAPs or counselling services can be an important lifeline for employees who might be struggling with issues like stress and associated poor mental health.
  3. Line manager training. As we’ve already highlighted, line managers can have a strong influence over wellbeing and can do a lot to help employees manage stress. Training is crucial for managers to be able to spot the signs that someone needs help, as well as having effective conversations and signposting to sources of further help. In fact, three-fifths of businesses already train line managers to manage stress, which is an encouraging sign.

Visit our Insights Hub for more employee wellbeing advice

You can keep up-to-date with the world of health and wellbeing in the workplace by visiting our Insights Hub; designed to inform and inspire all organisations. Explore a wide range of resources and research such as how-to-guides and insights from industry experts and partners.

All other figures in this article are taken from CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Well-being at Work 2020 report.

This article has been provided by Simplyhealth. The original article can be found here.

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