Consciously addressing triggers of workplace stress helps puts wellbeing at the heart of a business, resulting in improved health, productivity and loyalty.
One in six of the working age population is suffering from a mental health condition at any point in time. Stress accounts for around 43% of working days lost per year due to ill health, yet a staggering 95% of employees give reasons other than workplace stress for fear of stigma surrounding mental health (Business in the Community).
Workplace stress is a serious concern. However, tackling wellbeing at work in a meaningful way can have far-reaching effects. Not only does it improve the health and wellbeing of employees, it boosts productivity and loyalty too. In fact, 60% of employees say they would feel more motivated and more likely to recommend their organisation as a good place to work if their employer took action to support mental wellbeing (Mind).
Here are some factors that can impact wellbeing at work, and what to do to tackle them:
1. Unrealistic workloads
Having too much work is one of the greatest stressors in the workplace, leaving employees feeling overwhelmed and out of control. Managers should ensure employees feel they are approachable to discuss workload and other issues, with regular one-to-one sessions in the diary specifically to plan work and discuss issues. Ensuring staff feel supported and enabling them to speak up about workload goes a long way to embedding a feeling of wellbeing.
2. High pressure working environments
The feeling of pressure has a palpable knock-on effect in relation to the mental wellbeing of a workforce. This is why it’s so important to encourage employees to take lunch breaks, undertake physical activities and organise social events to achieve an improved balance throughout the work day. Think creatively – anything from a lunchtime walking club to 30-minute yoga sessions can work wonders.
3. Lack of support
Mental wellbeing in the workplace is affected when employees feel isolated and unsupported. As well as managers creating ample opportunities for one-to-one conversations, organisations should also consciously implement policies promoting health and wellbeing. Within this, peer support systems and access to a variety of methods of assistance can make a tangible difference to how supported staff feel.
4. Poor communication about change
Times of uncertainty at work – whether it’s due to a restructure or the possibility of redundancies – can cause infinite pressure on individuals. This feeling worsens when change is not communicated adequately. Employees feel much less stressed when change is communicated in an open and honest manner. Any times of change should be communicated with the support of robust change management guidelines and a variety of internal communications channels, while providing opportunities for staff to ask questions.
5. Stressful physical working environment
Noise, space and other physical aspects such as temperature in a workplace can create an underlying feeling of stress at work. Create guidelines about appropriate levels of noise in the office – for example, brainstorming sessions should not be held informally around desks out of respect for others. Have ‘quiet zones’ where employees can work flexibly, and come to team agreements about the use of fans and heaters if temperature isn’t centrally controlled. Encouraging employees to make the most of flexible working and working from home policies also helps wellbeing remain an important focus of working life.
6. Culture of keeping quiet
When mental wellbeing isn’t addressed or talked about openly in the workplace, this tells employees it isn’t appropriate to speak up about any mental health concerns they have. This should be addressed from the top, with leaders and managers speaking up about mental health in meetings and written communication. Together with actively implemented wellbeing policies, this helps create a shift in workplace culture and makes mental wellbeing a topic that can be approached.
7. Lack of teamwork
Employees tend to become more stressed when they feel isolated or disconnected from their team. Managers can address this by encouraging more collaboration and information-sharing within teams – ensuring the right people come together for specific projects. Organising team building away days also helps to cement working relationships, resulting in more positivity and a greater sense of wellbeing.
By tackling the causes of stress in the workplace from multiple angles, mental health and wellbeing at work has the potential to exponentially improve the way employees feel about their jobs. Improving health and developing a culture of wellbeing makes employees feel genuinely valued. The knock-on effect to a business can be truly powerful.