Whether it’s the demands of the job or how it is being handled in your workplace, stress is a big issue in modern workplaces. According to the health and safety executive (HSE), 428,000 people in the UK reported work-related stress to the extent that they believed it contributed to illness. That’s a whopping 40% of all work-related illnesses! Managing stress in your workplace effectively is essential for your workplace wellness.
What is stress?
Stress affects individuals differently. Generally, people experience stress when they are finding themselves under too much emotional or mental pressure. This creates a surge of hormones that has a physiological effect on the body.
It’s important to mention that not all stress is bad. In fact, some people can really thrive in high-pressure environments! However, when you find yourself in prolonged stressful situations, it can begin to have a detrimental effect on your physiological and psychological wellbeing and may even result in long term sickness or significantly reduced productivity.
Recognising the signs of stress
The health and safety executive have listed these as the most common symptoms of stress in individuals. Although it is not your duty to diagnose your employees, spotting the early warning signs can help you open a dialogue with your employee to see how you can help. Please note that if you are worried about a colleague or employee, it’s best to recommend that they see their GP as soon as possible.
- Negative or depressive feelings
- Disappointment with yourself
- Increased emotional reactions – more tearful or sensitive or aggressive
- Loneliness – withdrawn
- Loss of motivation commitment and confidence
- Mood swings (not behavioural)
- Confusion, indecision
- Can’t concentrate
- Poor memory
Changes from your normal behaviour
- Changes in eating habits
- Increased smoking, drinking or drug-taking ‘to cope’
- Mood swings affecting your behaviour
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Twitchy, nervous behaviour
- Changes in attendance such as arriving later or taking more time off
- Headaches or dizziness
- Muscle tension or pain
- Stomach problems
- Chest pain or a faster heartbeat
- You could suffer from colds more frequently
People who are stressed at work often show up to work even when ill (Presenteeism) because they are worried about getting behind on work. If you’ve noticed other employees how up to work unwell, or you force yourself to go in even when suffering from a cold, this could be a symptom of stress.
How to cope with stress at work
There are things that you can do to help manage and cope with stress.
Understand stress: It’s helpful to learn what stress is, how it affects you and what is causing you stress.
Ask for help: It might help to talk about it with people are around you and go to your GP. Don’t be scared to talk about it with your manager, they want what’s best for you.
Use up your holiday hours: Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself when feeling overwhelmed with your workload is to step back and take a breather. Have some time off and let yourself relax.
Employee workshops: Some workplaces have workshops for managing stress, if you have access to this, make good use of it. If not, why not mention it to your manager, other employees could benefit from this too!
Leave your work at the office: It might be hard to do this if your work is piling up, but it’s one of the best things you can do to help reduce your stress. If you find yourself answering work emails whilst cooking your dinner, stop! Or if you can’t stop, at least set yourself a time to stop.
Take care of yourself: When feeling overwhelmed with work and dealing with stress, your self-care routine might not be as good as it should be. Stress has a way of making itself the centre of attention, when this happens remember to put yourself first. Make sure you’re getting 8 hours of sleep, eating a healthy balanced diet, and exercising regularly. Meditating and practising mindfulness can help you understand your emotions and how to cope with them.
Health and wellbeing when working from home
Covid has caused many employees to work from home, whilst a lot of people enjoy working from home, there are remote workers suffering from their mental health. It’s easy to get up caught up in your thoughts and feel isolated when they’re spending a majority of their time sitting inside the house. It’s even worse for those who live alone and not with family/partners/friends.
EgroPro is an online workstation assessment system, and they have a wellbeing module that employers can use to check on their employees who work remotely. The employee as to go through a series of questions and tick some boxes. It’s an easy way of making sure staff are doing okay and finding out specifically what’s causing issues and solving these problems.