Recently on social media I saw a post where a manger had to pull a staff member up for a significant amount of sick days. This manager, rather than following the strict discipline procedure, asked the staff member what was wrong and what had caused all these odd sick days. This staff member opened up about how stress had been affecting them. Reading this made me think how many people may have had a sick day due to stress and what can be done at work to stop this happening.
What we do need to remember is not all stress will be purely work related. Work stress could just be a trigger for stress or trauma going on elsewhere in someone’s life. It is important to be aware that if someone is going through a bereavement or a divorce or other stressful life events this may be affected by small amounts of stress at work.
As a company it is important to ensure you are encouraging a healthy work environment, try to minimise stress levels and have places employees can go to talk about this. Here are some suggestions:
A member of staff who has attended a mental health course could be invaluable to your team in helping spot when people may be struggling with stress. Knowing what to look for could be the best way to help deal with stress early and not let it begin to overwhelm someone. Having an early intervention and strategy in place could possibly stop people having to go off on the sick when dealing with stress.
For example, if someone is starting to complain of a lot of headaches and fatigue and this is unusual for this person this could be the first sign of stress starting to affect someone. Stress can cause not only psychological symptoms but behavioural and physical symptoms. It could also be important to educate staff on these early symptoms so they can be more self-aware of how their body and mind is reacting to their workplace.
These meetings could be by department or have everyone gathering together. Before the meeting ask staff to send in suggestions about increasing morale or what is working well and having a positive effect on morale within the company. During the meeting go through a few of the suggestions which may be the most achievable and see how staff react to these.
Making sure the staff have good morale is one of the first things an employer can do to make sure that the staff are able to cope well with stress in the workplace. If they feel like their colleagues and managers are all there to support them and it is an encouraging environment, dealing with a stressful call or a stressful workload can seem a lot easier.
If a staff member is going through a stressful time at home for example, they may have needed time off for a bereavement, it is important to be able support these employees during this time. This could involve directing them to external support systems who may help with counselling or general support with finances and everyday tasks. https://bit.ly/2Z37ngR *
It may be useful for managers to be aware of how the company can support the staff during hard times and have understanding on how to approach these situations in a way to make the employee feel comfortable and not like they are being punished.
Everyone will experience workplace stress whether this is intense or just a bad day at the office. Having measures in place to help employees deal with this is important not only for the staff but for the business as a whole.
*We are not recommending their services but only indicating where help could be found.