According to Health & Safety Executive statistics, there were a total number of 440,000 cases of work related stress in the UK during FY 2014/15 which amounted to 9.9 million lost working days. Stress accounted for 35% of all work-related ill health cases and 43% of all working days lost due to ill health. The main work factors cited by respondents as causing work related stress, depression or anxiety were workload pressures, including tight deadlines, too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support.
As we progress towards evermore demanding and challenging occupational requirements – brought on (in part) by accelerating advances in technology and an increasing pool of labour, where the number of new-entrants easily surpasses those who cannot afford (or have no inclination) to retire – the relative “health” of businesses will not be measured in terms of P&L alone. The care and welfare of all staff is a paramount factor for success.
Government has surprisingly (to many) come to the conclusion that greater recognition of employee concerns would be beneficial to business. The recent announcement of workers’ representation on company boards will probably come as an anathema to many retired directors downing the single malt at the 19th hole, but it doesn’t signal the imminent arrival of soviet-style collectives and committees.
The more enlightened organisations already have in place practices to detect the early signs of stress and provide the necessary support when needed. Everybody deals with stress differently and there is no cure-all solution. There is a greater understanding and appreciation of mental-health issues throughout society which can spill-over into the business world.
Empathy and understanding are two of the important factors in combatting stress in the workplace. Improved communication – up and down the hierarchy – is a key issue. For many, appraisals occur once or twice a year and normally focus entirely on the (perceived) performance of the individual concerned, as viewed through management eyes. It’s a “tick in the box” exercise for many managers and once completed, can be filed away in HR never to re-surface until next year’s obligation.
Appraisals are important (when done properly) but provide only a snap-shot of issues at that particular time. Why not introduce a system which provides continuous assessment of the company’s health and well-being, soliciting views from all levels and enabling action to be taken in real-time to prevent absenteeism and improve overall morale? When people talk to each other they get to understand each other’s viewpoint and can do something about it to make things better.
Nothing new here folks – it’s called Engagement (http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/factsheets/employee-engagement.aspx) and there are companies out there who have taken advantage of the solutions available (e.g. Engagement Multiplier) that are benefitting enormously from improved communication and collaboration, that ultimately transfers to better profits, retention of staff and higher productivity.
No need to get stressed anymore.