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Little by little the evenings are getting lighter, the spring sunshine a little more frequent and the cold dark months a little more behind us.

Some of us may be feeling a bit calmer and relaxed as we ramp up into springtime. Others, not so much, perhaps feeling the demands of work are leaving them feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and stressed.

April is Stress Awareness Month and this year the theme is #littlebylittle.

This April people managers should make it an opportunity to promote good mental health and build resilience within the workplace.

Impact of stress at work

Stress at work is defined as ‘the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker’.

Stress at work can have a damaging effect on business and individuals with 17.1 million working days lost to stress, depression, and anxiety in 2022/23 and 49% of work-related ill-health being attributable to stress, depression, and anxiety.

It is easy to see the impacts of stress at work pile up.

Pressures at work can be experienced by all regardless of age, job title, or experience, and some pressure can even motivate and enhance staff engagement and productivity.

However, too much pressure can become destructive and sometimes spiral out of control into habitual burnout at which employees will need external support and the recovery road can be long.

Prolonged periods of excessive stress levels can lead to problems such as:

  • Increase absenteeism
  • Reduced productivity
  • Reduced creativity
  • Poor team morale
  • High staff turnover

With the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers are under a duty of care to protect staff from the risk of stress at work.

In addition, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires employers to make a ‘suitable and sufficient assessment’ of the risks to the health and safety of their employees at work.

Along with an employer’s duties under the Equality Act for supporting long-term health conditions in the workplace, failing to manage workplace stress could put your organisation at risk of possible costly employment claims.

Therefore, managing workplace stress can help reduce absenteeism and increase employee engagement but also protect your business.

Common causes of stress at work

Stress at work can have a variety of causes. However, there are often 7 main areas which can cause work-related stress if not well managed:

  • a lack of control of the workload
  • high work demands and lack of clarity about responsibilities
  • fear of redundancy or changes
  • poor line management and support
  • difficult relationships with colleagues
  • workplace bullying or harassment
  • workplace discrimination

Take action

HR professionals should urge managers and supervisors to prioritise mental health in their teams.

Along the theme of #littlebylittle, taking small steps in the workplace a little can become a lot and make a significant impact.

Little by little tips for stress at work

“Little By Little, A Little Becomes A Lot”, should encourage employers to recognise the power of consistent positive actions on wellbeing.

Adopting and promoting a healthy work environment to reduce stress at work is essential and we have put together 5 top tips to approach stress management in the workplace.

1. Risk assessment and stress audits

Evaluating workplace stressors can identify areas of concern and take corrective measures.

2. Line manager training

Upskilling your managers to recognise stress signs and empower them to create open and supportive communication.

3. Staff surveys

By engaging employees directly you can use this feedback to individualise your stress management initiatives for the workplace.

4. Support resources

Ensure employees have a safe place to turn when they need support for example with an employee assistance program or mental health first aider.

5. Stress and mental wellbeing policy

Outline your commitment to good well-being to address the understanding of work-related stress and its commitment to identify stress sources and provide an environment to support mental well-being.

If you need assistance with drafting a stress management policy or line manager training in your workplace, please contact us on 0333 888 1360 or complete the enquiry form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Little by little, small actions can make a big healthy change.

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