A blog for employers on managing stress in the workplace

April is Stress Awareness Month and each year we discuss reducing stress as well as coping techniques. Over the last year there has been an increase in people feeling stressed in the UK.

Many of the reasons for the increased stress is due to the pandemic but it is important to realise that this has affected people in different ways and for different reasons. Some people have experienced loneliness, homeschooling, zoom fatigue, burnout, reduction or loss in income, shielding, loss of loved ones, illness, long covid, increase in caring responsibilities and more.

Both employers and employees have had to adjust, whether it be to a lack of or abundance of work and many businesses have undergone a change to remote working. 

We have put together some suggestions of how to manage or reduce stress:

  • Stress Risk Assessment

Employers have a legal duty to protect staff from stress in the workplace. The Health and Safety Executive provides a free downloadable stress risk assessment which you can use. You can download it here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/risk-assessment.htm

  • Ask

It sounds simple doesn’t it? However it is easy to get caught up in the day to day things or to think that staff are no longer stressed because the lockdown is easing. Make a point of asking yourself and staff if they are ok. Not just ok in the workplace but ok overall. 

This can be done in formal reviews but can also be done in everyday conversations. 

  • Keep in touch

If you are still remote working as a temporary measure or as permanent measure make an effort to keep in touch. Not working in the same place sometimes means that you don’t see when someone is feeling a bit down. Emails, slack and other forms of business communication can easily just be about business so be intentional about keeping in touch. 

You may choose to have regular video meetings, team catch ups or quizzes, or physically meet up once a month or so.

This can help in fostering a culture where staff feel able to talk if they need to.

  • Monitor the workload

Some businesses have experienced a boom over the last year, others may have made staffing cuts and shared the work amongst the remaining staff. Try not to overload staff with too much work, too much over time can cause burnout which will result in more mistakes, lower quality work and sick days. By looking after your staff you will be looking after your business.

  • Have a shut down time

Being able to work from anywhere at any time sounds amazing but it can lead to us having less time to relax. It can be tempting to send an email at 11pm or on a Sunday morning because we can. The problem with this is that it can mean we don’t get dedicated time where we are not thinking about work. It may also mean that the recipient of that email feels the need to think about work during those unsociable hours. Try to have boundaries which includes a clear shut down time each day.

  • Remind people to take annual leave

This applies to both employers and employees. The ban on non-essential travel and the ability to work from home may mean that staff are less likely to take a break. Encourage staff to use their annual leave. Annual leave is a health and safety measure, it is there to help people to rest and recoup.

  • Training

Managers do not always know how to manage or identify stress in the workplace. You may want to consider stress in the workplace training for managers and their team members.

  • Contact professionals

Even though employers have a duty to protect staff from stress they are not always qualified or equipped to help. 

There are many mental health charities and professionals who can help with workplace wellbeing. You can reach out to them as a manager or colleague or you may choose to signpost staff to them.

Examples include:

Mind https://www.mind.org.uk/

Anxiety UK https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/

We hope you have found this blog useful. We have a number of other blogs on Employment Law and HR topics, you can find these on our website at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

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