International Stress Awareness Week 2018: Mental Health in the Workplace – Tackling the Effects of Stress
It’s International Stress Awareness week this week (5th-9th November 2018), and we have been fortunate enough to talk to some really inspiring people in and around mental health. Today we look at the effects of stress in the workplace and share some tips to help managers create a calmer working environment.
Stress, anxiety and depression are the biggest cause of sickness absence in our society. Work-related stress alone accounted for 45% of all working days lost to ill health in 2015/16. What is stress and how does it affect our mental and physical health? Read our blog on What is stress
How managers can help their team with stress, anxiety and burnout. Try these 6 things
1. Role Model
What is your relationship like with stress? How do you cope under pressure? Imagine how other people may interpret your behaviours. Do you become less patient and snappier? Or perhaps you work longer hours to try and keep on top of the stress. Or maybe, you become more withdrawn from your team and hide away in your office hoping no one disturbs you.
Whatever your style is in managing stress at work, your team will witness it and they are likely to follow your lead. If there is a situation in need of your urgent attention, how do you approach it? Are you calm or are you stressed and showing panic?
Stress breeds more stress.
People who are stressed and not coping create a negative energy, which rubs off and can affect the people around them – at home and at work. It’s important that you take responsibility for your own stress and seek support when needed.
Build your resilience and role model calm in the workplace – this will not only help you at work but it will start to have a positive effect on your whole team.
2. Openness and honesty
Work is getting more demanding and more of us work in 24/7 environments. We are constantly available for connection due to technology and it can be harder to switch off from work at home. Equally, we are not robots and home related stresses can affect our work life. The more we feel pressured to ‘leave home life at home’ and ‘leave work life at work’ the more unrealistic it becomes to manage. We are humans and work and home can affect our feelings, emotions, thoughts, perceptions and esteem.
Naming our stressors and having open conversations at work will help create a supportive environment.
3. Stop trying to do more than one thing at once
Adapt a culture of “monotasking” to create more focus. Monotasking is the practice of dedicating yourself to one given task as well as minimising any potential distractions and/or interruptions until the task is complete or the given time has elapsed. Do fewer things, better.
If you are meeting with your team, give them your undivided attention, meetings will be more focused and productive that way. Make a conscious effort to be in the moment being mindful to what is present rather than thinking of what is on your to do list. Thinking about it won’t change it, so you have nothing to lose in being more attentive and in the moment.
4. Teach Resilience
You can support your team to grow in resilience. Help your team members become more resilient by helping them to learn from their stressful situations. Encourage them to develop self awareness and to reflect on how they could have managed their stress differently. Use evidence based strategies to teach them the science of resilience. Read more about this in our resilience blog.
5. Allow time for disconnection outside of work
Encourage your team to turn off email notifications on their phones or create communication policies that gives staff sufficient time to respond e.g. 24 or 48 hours. This will reduce the pressure on your team, or at least the feeling of it, and allow them to manage their time effectively.
Recently, there seems to be an ever-increasing expectation for employees to take work home or put in overtime hours. However, this can have diminishing returns as they become more and more demotivated resulting in less quality output and higher stress levels. Inspire your team to invest in some well-earned rest and relaxation when they head home, and you’ll see positive effects in the workplace.
6. Help your team take responsibility for their own resilience
If someone in your team is stressed, adopt empathy and compassion and support them to explore what the main cause of stress is for them. In our stress management training courses we look at 5 main causes of stress, which include control and trust. Staff may well accept responsibility for their stress but may not have the skills to develop their resilience.
Incorporate training for your team such as Mental Health First Aid where key people within your team can be trained to spot the signs and symptoms of mental health problems such as stress and they can direct them to get support.
If you are worried about stress in your workplace, and you would like to support your team to developing skills in emotional resilience and stress management – find out more about our Stress Management Courses.