During International Stress Awareness Week, it’s our job as employers to appreciate what may be causing our employees stress and how that can affect their personal wellbeing and professional performance. And more importantly, do we understand how to eliminate it for the good of the employees and our business?

Stress Awareness Week is all about putting health, happiness and wellbeing into the heart of business. But what does stress awareness mean to you, as an employer?

Causes:

Stress can come from various aspects of our lives but quite often, it actually comes from a number of places at one time and things get overwhelming. It can become an unhealthy state of body and mind and understanding the triggers which cause stress is the first step to eliminating it.

According to ISMA, 602,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2018/2019. Fast forward to 2020 and all the challenges we’ve all had to face this year, this is set to increase. Struggling to cope with the workload, changes at work and a lack of support rank high in the reasons for workplace stress. Those working in public administration and defence, human health and social work activities and education are said to be some of the industries with the highest rates of stress, depression or anxiety.

Effects:

We often think of stress as being a mental health issue, but it may be surprising to learn that stress can also have a huge effect on our physical health too! Here’s some examples of how stress affects your body. If you notice any of these signs in your employees, it’s time to talk, take action and help them on a road to a happier, healthier life.

Physical effects:

  • Aches, pains and muscle tension
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Extreme weight loss or gain
  • Dizziness or nausea
  • Cold or sweaty hands and feet
  • Menstrual changes or loss of libido
  • High blood pressure

Emotional and Psychological effects:

  • Tearful
  • Mood swings
  • Angry and frustrated
  • Lack of confidence or self esteem
  • Memory lapses
  • Easily distracted and unable to keep up with work
  • Undue worrying
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Insomnia

You may notice one of these effects, or many of the above. However, if you notice any of these signs in your employees there is action you can take. If there is anything you can do, you’ll be able to help them perform better and work more efficiently in their job.

Action:

Stress doesn’t always come from work that’s for sure but work can definitely have an impact, and being compassionate and understanding to our employees’ personal situations is a brilliant attribute to have as an employer.

It can sometimes be difficult for employees to admit they’re struggling to cope and so it can sometimes take you, as their employer to reach out first. Give your employees the confidence to know that admitting they need help, reaching out and being honest shows true strength. The more you open up discussions and offer a listening ear, the more you can help make changes and make a more effective, efficient and healthy place to work.

  • Make time to talk: It can be difficult, particularly if employees are working from home, to make time to have a proper conversation. However, this is more important than ever! Having a phone call or video chat can help reduce the feeling of loneliness and isolation, giving them a safe place to get things of their chest and keep you up to date with how they’re coping. Once you’re in the know, you can offer assistance, advice and solutions.
  • Accept and Appreciate: It can be easy as an employer to avoid approaching the subject of stress. If business is running smoothly and employees are working well, it can be easy to assume everything is ok. However, this assumption may make it even harder for employees to reach out. The more we can appreciate how our employees are feeling and accept what the causes are, the more we can focus on how to solve it.
  • Courses: Offering courses to your clients shows a true commitment to their wellbeing. Our Stress Awareness Courses, Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) service, Management Referral support (telephone, face to face or video), Mental Health Triages and Know Your Numbers services all take solid action in approaching the issues associated with workplace stress. We can tailor your service to suit your industry, your business and your employees so you can really get the most out of your time and create an effective solution to stress for you and your team. It’s quite common for us to just accept that stress is part of our lives, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If we can take small steps to reduce our stress, it can lead to a much more fulfilling, healthy, happy life.

Stress Awareness Week is just one week in the year with a focus on what causes, effects and actions we need to be aware of when it comes to stress. However, if this week can shed a light on how we can all improve our focus on stress for the good of our own and our teams’ mental and physical wellbeing, it will have a profound and positive effect on all aspects of work and play.

Get in touch with Acorn today to learn more about how we can help you take action now.