The 5th-9th November brought around International Stress Awareness Week. Recent research has highlighted the workplace stress crisis to all employers and employees. According to the Short Warwick/Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (SWEMWBS), two-thirds of working adults have ‘poor’ or ‘below average’ scores on mental wellbeing. It doesn’t help that 75% of people work in sedentary desk jobs and a third consistently work for over 9 hours a day, both limiting an active lifestyle. New initiatives can be trialed to reduce workplace stress.
Naturally, stressed workers have lower mental wellbeing but it also negatively affects employers. Although small amounts of stress and deadlines can be motivational, stressed workers are often less productive and the study found that half of all workers have taken a day off for their mental health. This can be a problem for all workers, but especially those who are middle-aged, the study found.
The Construction Industry ‘Silent Epidemic’
At the IOSH Construction Conference this year, work-related stress, depression and anxiety was a key focus. More instances were reported than any musculoskeletal disorders in the industry and the general consensus from the event was that not enough employees are coming forward to receive help. Greater tailored support and mental health information was highlighted as a priority for all businesses in the area. One success story company that was making efforts towards better employee wellbeing, had managed to reduce absences caused by stress by 93%! Find out more information here.
Therefore, wellbeing is something that needs to be pushed by employers and employees, and we have written a few ideas below, to get the ball rolling for more positive mental health both in and out of the workplace.
So, What Can We Do to Reduce Workplace Stress?
The NHS reports that 1 in 5 visits to GPs are for psychological issues such as anxiety, stress and depression. You may find their stress busting tips useful or their guide on how to manage stress. Try to think about the causes of your stress and actionable and time-managed ideas you can put into place.
Employers also need to be aware of employee stress. Are they putting on unachievable targets or is there something they can do to improve wellbeing whilst also increasing productivity? A healthy and happy workforce are more engaged and despite extra spending, can actually save the company money and attract new talent.
Many companies out there offer training courses in reducing stress and understanding mindfulness. These could help teach staff and give everyone a common understanding of how the team can work best. Other wellbeing initiatives include; fitness programmes, yoga or gym memberships, flexible home working to help manage work-life balance, access to healthy food, and drop in sessions where employees can express their concerns and stress to management without the worry of judgement. Some innovative companies out there even offer nap rooms! However, this may not be appropriate in some of the industries we cater for.
It is also important to create an encouraging and positive atmosphere in work environments, rewarding staff for good work or for engaging in wellness activities. Forbes suggests that a wellbeing culture is necessary. Read more here.
In addition to the extensive benefits listed, it is also a legal requirement for employers to protect employees from harm and once a team member has made them aware of their workplace stress, they must assist in reducing the pressure and trying to increase wellbeing. Read more here. All risk assessments completed in workplaces, must also address the risk of stress.