Stress in the Workplace - How Can I Support my Employees?

Work-related stress is not a new issue, it’s been reported to have increased progressively* over the last few decades. However, studies have shown it has been exacerbated further by Covid-19. A recent survey** of more than 12,000 employees across 11 countries found 2020 was deemed the most stressful year in history, with 78% of respondents saying the pandemic has negatively affected their mental health.

Furthermore, in their recent report, HSE reported that in 2019/2020, 828,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety and 17.9 million working days were lost due to this. Unfortunately, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues, it is likely these figures will increase due to its significant impact on the way we work and live our lives. Stressed employees will have an impact on your business, so how can you help support them?

While it may not be possible to eliminate job stress entirely for your employees, you can help them learn how to manage it effectively. Common job stressors include a heavy workload, job insecurity, long work hours, office politics and conflicts with co-workers. Covid-19 has also introduced new concerns such as fears of the virus and of returning to the office.

Over 70 per cent of UK adults
have reported feeling so stressed
at some point in the past year
that they were unable to cope.

Moreover, work-related stress is more strongly associated with illness and health complications than financial or familial stress. As an employer, you can take several steps to help employees reduce their work-related stress:

  • Make sure that workloads are appropriate.
  • Have managers meet, in person or virtually, with employees regularly to facilitate communication.
  • Address negative and illegal actions in the workplace immediately — do not tolerate bullying, discrimination or any other similar behaviours.
  • Recognise and celebrate employees’ successes.

Openly communicate your organisation’s commitment to cultivating the mental wellbeing of your employees. Too often, employees don’t seek out mental health services because they feel ashamed. By communicating your commitment to mental wellbeing, you will incorporate it into your organisation’s culture and way of life. Doing so will help encourage employees to seek the services they need.

Each business will have its individual stressors, but you can use things like wellbeing workshops or webinars to highlight these sorts of issues to employees and managers to help them spot the signs and deal with them as soon as they arise.

Some insurance products, like Group Income Protection, provide workshops or services that can help employees understand and deal with stress. Usually these are offered at no additional cost as part of the proposition.  Aston Lark Employee Benefits takes the time to understand your needs and promote these services to your employees to maximise the premium spend. Contact us on 020 7543 2817 to speak to a member of the team.

For further HSE guidance on managing workplace stress, click here.