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Workplace Stress – Worse Than Ever Before?

An image of a woman sitting at a desk covered in post-it notes looking stressed.

As International Stress Awareness Week took the spotlight last week, it is imperative to address the growing concern of workplace stress. The topic of stress is something that is always fresh on employer’s minds, especially with many implementing policies and support procedures to try and reduce it – but is any of it actually working?

A recent ToHealth poll, which found that 57% of individuals feel more stressed at work this year compared to the previous year, underlines the pressing need for employers to prioritise their employees’ mental wellbeing. In this article, we delve deeper into the causes, risks, and comprehensive solutions to tackle workplace stress.

Causes of Workplace Stress

Workplace stress is a complex issue with multiple contributing factors, particularly in the ever-evolving professional landscape. To address it effectively, it’s essential to identify and comprehend the root causes.

1. Remote Work Challenges

The shift towards remote work has blurred the lines between professional and personal life, leading to isolation and an increase in screen time, all of which can contribute to heightened stress levels. Employers can address this by promoting virtual team-building activities, setting clear boundaries for work hours, and encouraging regular breaks.

2. Job Insecurity

The ever-changing economic landscape has left employees feeling insecure in their roles, with fears of job loss or reduced job security adding an extra layer of stress. Employers should maintain transparent communication about the company’s financial health and job security, providing reassurance to their workforce.

3. Increased Workload

The relentless pursuit of productivity has led to employees juggling heavier workloads, resulting in longer working hours and, consequently, increased stress. Employers can mitigate this by hiring additional staff, redistributing tasks, or offering training to enhance efficiency.

4. Lack of Work-Life Balance

Many employees struggle to find a balance between their professional and personal lives, which can lead to feelings of burnout and heightened stress. Employers should encourage employees to take their allotted leave, provide flexibility in work hours, and promote a culture of work-life balance.

Risks of Workplace Stress

Unchecked workplace stress poses several risks to both employees and organisations, highlighting the urgency of addressing this issue.

  • Reduced Productivity
    • High levels of stress can lead to decreased productivity as employees struggle to focus and perform their tasks efficiently. This can result in missed deadlines, errors, and lower quality of work.
  • Mental Health Challenges
    • Workplace stress can contribute to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, impacting the overall well-being of employees. Employees suffering from mental health issues are less likely to perform optimally and may require time off work.
  • Increased Absenteeism
    • Stressed employees are more likely to take sick leave, leading to increased absenteeism and additional workload for their colleagues. This can create a cycle of increased stress for remaining employees.
  • High Employee Turnover
    • A stressful work environment often results in higher turnover rates, as employees seek less demanding and more supportive workplaces. High turnover leads to recruitment and training costs and decreased team cohesion.

Possible Solutions to Improve

Employers have a crucial role to play in reducing workplace stress. By implementing proactive measures, they can create a more supportive and less stressful work environment.

Employers should foster an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing mental health concerns. Providing resources like Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) can be invaluable. Regular mental health awareness campaigns and training for managers to recognise signs of stress and provide support are essential. Beyond this, offering flexible work options and setting reasonable working hour expectations can help employees maintain a healthier work-life balance. Employers can also explore job-sharing, part-time work, or compressed workweek options.

Organising stress management workshops and wellness programs can also provide employees with effective coping strategies to manage workplace stress. These workshops can cover topics such as time management, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques. Regularly checking in with employees to assess their mental health and work-related stress levels is essential for early issue identification and providing necessary support. Managers should actively engage in one-on-one meetings with their team members to understand their challenges and offer assistance.

Ensuring transparent communication regarding job security and career progression can alleviate fears and uncertainties among employees. Regular updates on the company’s financial stability, future plans, and opportunities for growth are essential for keeping employees informed and motivated.

A Collective Effort to Tackle Workplace Stress

In a world where work is constantly evolving, employers must recognise that the well-being of their employees is a paramount consideration. International Stress Awareness Week serves as a timely reminder of the need for employers to proactively address workplace stress, creating an environment that is not only productive but also supportive and conducive to mental wellbeing.

The people have spoken – more must be done. By understanding the causes, recognising the risks, and implementing solutions, organisations can reduce workplace stress and promote a healthier, happier workforce.

Looking for more from ToHealth?

If you want to learn more about how to implement employee wellbeing initiatives in your organisation, contact us today. We are ToHealth Ltd, a leading provider of employee wellbeing solutions for organisations of all sizes and sectors.

We can help you design and deliver bespoke employee wellbeing programmes that suit your needs and budget. Whether you need online or onsite employee wellbeing services, such as fitness or nutrition classes, occupational health support, or company health insurance policy, we have you covered.

Looking to find out more about how we can support your workforce to be more neuroinclusive? Or interested in our huge variety of webinars and workshops on offer? ToHealth can support you with all of this and more.