It is estimated that right now, one in six workers is dealing with a mental health problem. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) report, in their latest absence management survey, that two out of five employers say they’d seen an increase in reported mental health problems in the past year. So how comfortable is your organisation speaking about these issues when you see that colleagues and staff members are struggling?
Ideally employers need to take a proactive approach to stress management which focuses on prevention and early intervention, not just responding when a problem becomes significant or when someone goes on sick leave.
A number of organisations are looking at the main causes of stress in their organisation so they can try to reduce those stressors and also increase staff members’ resilience to deal with pressures they may face.
What can you do to reduce workplace stress?
- Do a stress audit and subsequently direct resources to reduce or eliminate the sources of stress.
- Ensure people feel adequately trained and supported to do their jobs well.
- Increase support for staff during periods of change and uncertainty.
Which interventions should you introduce to help build staff resilience?
- stress management and relaxation techniques training
- training aimed at building personal resilience (such as coping techniques, cognitive behaviour therapy, positive psychology courses)
- promoting healthy behaviour and exercise
- flexible working options and improved work-life balance
- personal counselling schemes.
Making an early invention by spotting and addressing early signs of a stress-related issue is important to prevent it from escalating. Staff members need to feel able to flag a problem with their line managers and feel confident they are capable of taking action. So it is important that your organisation invests in:
- developing the people management skills and confidence of managers at all levels so they feel able to have the appropriate conversations with staff
- line managers knowing the teams and people’s usual working styles to be able to spot behaviour which is out of sorts and may be an early warning sign of a potential issue
- developing a supportive work culture to encourage staff to discuss and seek support when experiencing stress
- provision of, and signposting to, support mechanisms, for example a counselling service
The CIPD has come up with a clear set of management competencies for preventing and reducing stress at work. This is a useful framework and checklist for ensuring your line managers are equipped to deal with stress at work. If you’d like a copy please get in touch.