Guest Blog: Stress in the workplace

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Is stress pink fluffy nonsense or something to take notice of in your team? HR expert Kathryn Miller has some answers.

kathryn miller

Britain’s employees are feeling more insecure and stressed at work than at any time in the past 20 years, according to a new study (2012 Skills and Employment Survey).

The research found that people were working harder and that work has become more intensive. Both the speed of work and pressures of working to tight deadlines have risen to record highs.

These factors can all have a significant bearing on the performance of your staff and the growth of your business, causing problems both for you as a leader and your team.

As a manager you have a duty of care to your staff – so here are our top tips for managing stress at work:

  1. Get to know your team well. Recognise what levels of workload they can reasonably cope with – remember everyone will be different
  2. Set up regular one to ones to check-in on how they are doing and to get feedback– these don’t have to be long and formal but make sure you do them
  3. Watch out for signs of stress such as increased number of sick days taken; becoming withdrawn; mood swings; negative conflict and anger
  4.  If you identify that the person is very stressed, arrange a private meeting in an informal setting
  5. Allow time for the person to open up
  6. Watch their body language and listen with attention
  7. Ask open questions and probe as appropriate
  8. Offer support and follow up
  9. Jointly identify some solutions and encourage them to come to you in the future

Stress in the workplace continues to be one of the biggest causes of staff sickness:

  • 40% of all work-related illnesses are stress-related (LFS 2011/12)
  • The average number of sick days has risen to 7.6 per employee in 2013 (CIPD).

This represents a large income deficit in your cash flow and possible lengthy claims for not showing a duty of care as an employer. Are you taking action?

The main factors that can cause stress at work are:

  • Work pressure
  • Lack of managerial support
  • Work-related violence and bullying (LFS 2011/12).

As a manager you can help prevent or minimise these factors, so it is well worth taking notice of stress levels in your team.

About the author:

Kathryn Miller is an experienced HR professional at director level with eighteen years managing change in organisations. Kathryn is based in Penryn.