The first Wednesday in November marks National Stress Awareness Day.
The latest HSE health and safety at work summary statistics for Great Britain 2018 were widely reported across the news channels today. Sadly it has concluded that stress now accounts for a whopping 15.4 million lost working days in 2017/18, up from 12.5 million the previous year. A rise of almost a quarter!
In a fully connected workplace, with 24/7 connectivity and a move towards working practices such as zero-hours and gig economies, places increasing pressures upon workers to be always in touch. When aligned to so many outmoded management practices placing these unreasonable pressures upon their workers, these numbers begin to become self-prophesying. Worse still if allowed to continue one can only see this deteriorating further.
In a recent survey conducted by The Stress Management Society for workplace consultants Peldon Rose, and measured by the widely recognised Short-Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, 41% of UK workers had workplace stress measured as ‘poor’, while a further 23% were measured as ‘below average’.
36% of people reported such workplace stress as having been on-going for at least five years, while 48% said they had needed to take at least one day off for their mental health.
Their report can be accessed by clicking here
This is clearly unacceptable and as the report concludes, businesses need to urgently adapt their behaviours and look to radical new techniques to both identify and respond to workplace stress. Taking a proactive approach to wellbeing and mindfulness figure large. As does having open and supportive communication strategies.Thinking about the working environment and creating the right working environment being equally vital. As one of the report's authors, Neil Shah, Chief De-stressing Officer, The Stress Management Society concludes: "I am a massive believer that going to work should make you healthy. Most organisations want to reduce or mitigate the amount of stress or poor wellbeing they cause their employees – how about turning that on its head so going to work boosts your wellbeing and is good for your mental, physical and emotional state."
We would therefore urge employers to use this opportunity as a catalyst to look for the stress-points that exist in their businesses. Then not to ignore them, or take a sticking plaster approach, but to drive fundamental changes that will remove the stress, create a wellbeing-first culture and a workplace that people actually look forward to coming to. The motivated workforce will deliver increased productivity, positively look at how they can help clients and yes, even help increase your profit margins!
Want to make that difference? You should seek professional help. But to help you along, here's a couple of good places to start:
Mind; The Mental Health Charity. They have an excellent workplace section on their website https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/
The HSE and their work-related stress help guides http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/index.htm