2 November 2016 marks National Stress Awareness Day
National Stress Awareness Day (NSAD) is one of the most well-known charitable events held by the International Stress Management Association (ISMA) to raise awareness of Workforce Wellness. The first National Stress Awareness Day took place in 1998 and was founded by Carole Spiers the chair of ISMA.
What is “Stress”?
According to The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), stress is “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them”. The consequences of stress are that the quality of people’s work lives are compromised, resulting in workplaces being impacted.
Workplaces are impacted in a variety of ways, but it is usually through drops in effective work productivity, or failure to engage completely due to sickness absence. Stress takes its toll on an individual’s physical and emotional health and wellbeing, usually leading to anxiety and depression.
We thought we would get involved with NSAD 2016 by outlining in this article:
- The impact stress can have on the workplace if it is not recognised and managed
- The benefits of recognising and managing stress in the workplace for organisations
- The indicators of stress which organisations can look out for
Awareness of the impacts of Stress
ACAS reports that each new case of stress in an employee leads to an average of 31 days off work. Similarly, the HSE outlines that in 2014/2015 40% of all work-related illness that people reported was due to stress. It is clear that despite stress always being a problem, it is very much becoming more of a factor organisations must consider and attempt to effectively manage to ensure it has minimal impact.
If an organisation fails to recognise stress in the workplace and actively put in procedures to manage it, undoubtedly the organisation is going to end up significantly paying in the sense that employees are more likely to take absence and be less engaged, with stress-related claims against the organisation being more likely. Ultimately, all employers should be aware of their legal obligation to take stress in the workplace seriously.
Benefits of recognising and managing stress in the workplace
There are many benefits of recognising and managing work-place stress, but the main and significant ones to note are:
- Greater employee engagement – if employees have a quality work life they are more likely to feel happier and consequently be more engaged and likely perform better.
- Easier to introduce and manage workplace change – if stress is managed, significant changes to the workplace and daily routines and patterns will be easier.
- Employee relations – effectively managing stress results in stronger employee relations, meaning things can more likely be sorted at work.
- Greater attendance and less sickness absence
Given the benefits above, arguably it would be counterproductive for organisations to fail to recognise and attempt to manage workplace stress.
Indicators of Stress in the Workplace
Indicators of stress can include:
|Declining or inconsistent performance||Arriving late to work|
|Uncharacteristic errors||Leaving early|
|Loss of control over work||Extended lunches|
|Loss of motivation or commitment||Absenteeism|
|Lapses in memory||Reduced social contact|
|Increased time at work||Elusiveness or evasiveness|
|Lack of holiday planning or usage|
|Arguments||Criticism of others|
|Irritability or moodiness||Shouting|
|Over-reaction to problems||Bullying or harassment|
|Personality clashes||Poor employee relations|
(Table from Practical Law Company)
Steps organisations can take to manage Stress
One of the major steps an organisation can take in its attempt to effectively manage stress is to ensure that it has a stress policy in its employee Handbook.
This is incredibly beneficial because it explains the employer’s attitude to stress and what steps it is actively taking to help combat stress in the workplace. Other steps include:
- Conducting return-to-work interviews when an employee has been absent
- Conducting a stress audit
- Training – for managers, senior employees and in general to ensure they have awareness of the indicators of stress and what to look out for
- Providing support through an occupational health service or counselling
- Ensuring workloads and workplace demands are realistic and do not cause unnecessary or excessive pressure that could lead to stress
- Ensuring employees are consulted regularly regarding workplace changes
Can we dismiss an employee on long term sickness absence?
This is a question we are asked regularly and there are circumstances in which there is no alternative. Visit our page related to dismissal. It is essential to follow a thorough capability or disciplinary procedure to minimise the risk of a tribunal claim.
If you can relate to anything mentioned in this article, or would simply like some advice or more information regarding stress in the workplace, contact us on 0114 303 2300 or email email@example.com.