Stress is a natural part of work. It affects us all, whether we know it or not. A little bit of stress can actually help us out. Sometimes it can give us that bit of pressure which we need to continue thriving forward. However, that’s about as good as it gets. For most of us, stress is only ever bad news, having a detrimental, negative effect on your productivity and working relationships. Workers will also take stress home with them, affecting their home life as well.
Stress whilst working is inevitable. There are methods which both you and your management can implement to try and prevent it. These techniques can be used at any level of any business, with higher levels of management certainly not immune from feeling the pressure. Some organisations will have their own way of tackling problems, but sometimes a companywide approach is the best method.
It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly where problems are coming from even if you are stressed. A key to combating it, is finding out exactly how stressed employees are. Arinite health and safety advisors have developed a stress matrix to discover exactly what is at the root of the problem.
There are six approaches which can be used to combat stress affectively across all levels of a business.
Role – Having all the responsibilities of the position fully established and clear before the role is taken on is essential. The business has to give enough information so that all the duties are understood and so that the employee feels comfortable with what they are doing. Additional duties cannot be added on a whim, particularly senior staff members taking advantage.
Demands – The demands of work are quickly becoming greater and greater. A typical working day is no longer 9-5, employees are being pushed harder. Providing achievable goals means that staff won’t be pushed too hard and can manage their own workload to some extent. Deciding on these goals together are the best way to establish appropriate objectives.
Support – Employees should have everything they need in order to be able to cope with their workload. Any new skills or processes which need to be learned, have to be clearly explained, with any new equipment being provided.
Control – Some managers might not be keen on the idea, but giving staff a level of control over their workload can be a very good principle to work on. Employees should always be encouraged to take on more work and develop further, however, they have to control when extra work is appropriate for them, so they can decide what is achievable.
Change – It doesn’t matter how small a change is to an employee’s role, they must be notified. Even small changes can disrupt an employee’s routine or method of work. Changes should be communicated effectively from top to bottom.
Relationships – All relationships whilst in the workplace must be kept professional and appropriate. For managers, this means trying to boost morale and promote a positive working relationship. This also includes stopping any demotion of work, or derogatory language used against employees.
Considering the amount of work related stress cases reported in 2014/15, incorporating at least one of these techniques could be a massive benefit.
- A total of 440,000 cases related to stress were reported. This includes depression or anxiety which have been caused by work.
- There were 234,000 new cases of stress related ill health reported, which works out to be at a rate of 740 issues per 100,000 workers. However, this has been a fairly steady rate for the past decade.
- In total 9.9 million working days were missed due to stress, working out at 23 days per individual case.
- Of all work related ill health stress caused 35%, with 43% of all sick days down to stress.
There is no doubting that completely preventing stress is almost impossible. But there are things which can be done. Although it will be difficult to include all these techniques in combating stress, even doing one of them could be a massive bonus in keeping a work force happy and productive.