Warning: You May Be Losing Valuable High Skilled Employees Due to Stressful Environments

Warning: You May Be Losing Valuable High Skilled Employees Due to Stressful Environments

Stress accounts for 57% of working days lost to poor health. It affects people in different ways from being physically unwell, mental health issues and existing issues can worsen. The law requires all employers to assess the risk of work-related stress.  Developing procedures can minimise stress impact on employees, leading to increased employee satisfaction.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) describe stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’. Business’ have a legal requirement to undertake a Stress Risk assessment, to manage the stress levels within a company culture.

Stressed employees can be demotivated and cause hostile working environment, thus leading to talented employees searching for new jobs. Considerations to how to reduce stress in the workplace include providing ongoing training for all employees from management level to junior executives.

Training staff goes a long way in helping individuals feel more valued in a workplace. Training can develop coping mechanisms for stress and wellbeing. Other essential training can help in improving workplace communication.  Many managers may require courses in effective communication when remote working.

Depending on the level of stress, employees can become more focused and productive with minimal levels of stress in short bursts.  It can boost employees to the next level, however continuous stress leads to burnout. Staff who burnout will become more emotional, easily distracted and struggle with sleeping/relaxing.

Managing Stress in the Workplace

Companies should be promoting measures to reduce stress levels of employees, for example encouraging lunch time walks, removing themselves from their desks and introducing monthly mediations online.  Continuous communication can also lower stress levels.  Simply checking in with employees can be beneficial, especially for mental health and encourages those to highlight exhausted workloads.

Signing employees up to Employee Assistance Programmes or providing support systems online, giving employees access to wellbeing information, fitness, and nutrition. Helping employees to be more mindless of stress and healthy lifestyles.

Businesses should create a company culture where employees focus on what they can control, rather than the uncontrollable. By focusing on the uncontrollable, this leads to additional stress for all parties. Whilst change is inevitable, managing how the business’ changes and how frequently can minimise stress. Employees can become stressed due to uncertainty of company changes and if change is too frequent causing confusion in correct processes.

Our Managing Director Helen Hardy, chats about managing teams whilst working remotely in this short YouTube video:

 

Stress Risk Assessment Tool kit

As mentioned above, communication is an essential part of reducing work-related stress.  The Stress Risk Assessment Tool Kit can help tailor communications, which are aimed at reducing stress levels.  Stress risk assessments are a key component of health and safety requirements.  The tool kit includes 6 different conversations templates:

  1. Demands: workload and the working environment
  2. Control: how much say someone has over their job
  3. Support: level of supervision and resources available to do this job
  4. Relationships: promoting positive working to help prevent conflict
  5. Role: making sure people understand their role and how it fits in the organisation
  6. Change: how organisational change is managed and communicated

Each of these conversations’ success relies on line managers and employees having open and honest conversations. All aspects of the outcomes should be agreed within the meeting and all parties having a copy. However, line managers should not use this in isolation. This should only be a guide to developing effective processes.

The tool kit helps to create measures to address the risks whilst ensuring the company complies with employee law.  Employers only have a legal duty of care to safeguard employees from stressful workplaces.  Responsibility of diagnosing and treating stress does not lay on the employer.

Download the stress-talking-toolkit

Legal requirement

Stress risk assessments are a legal requirement, and the HSE have been enforcing these since October 2021. The HSE has the power to enter any business premises to establish if employees are working safely. These visits are unannounced which result in fines or prosecution actions.

Factors and causes of stress at work

Stress occurs due to a variety of reasons in the workplace, with factors playing a part. These factors vary from a person skill or experience level, their age or if they have a disability.  Alternatively, others may be unable to cope with job demands or micromanagement.

Employees that lose control of how they do their work can add unnecessary stress, alongside causing issues with working relationships.  As well, if employees are lacking efficient information or support for particular tasks this causes unwarranted stress and confusion.

Resources

There are resources available to businesses to help manage and minimise stress in the workplace:

  1. Spectrum Life’s Employee Assistance Program
  2. Spill Mental Health Support for companies
  3. Health Assured – Support staff in their return to work