For those suffering from stress, it can be a debilitating illness. There are lots of reasons why people can become stressed and, as an employer, you will no doubt be aware that lots of people become stressed as a result of their job. When an employee is suffering from work-related stress, not only is this bad for them, it is also bad for you and your company.
There are lots of situations than can trigger work-related stress and, although some of these can be avoidable, some are not. Employers need to take work-related stress seriously and be able to identify what it is about the workplace that is causing employees to become stressed.
Stress can lead to sleepless nights, depression, lack of productivity and a generally discontented workplace. This can lead to future problems with recruitment because your company could find itself with a reputation of not looking after its staff – attracting the best young talent to apply for your roles will become increasingly. It can also lead to a number of staff being off work or not performing at their best when they are in work.
What Are The Causes Of Stress In The Workplace?
Before we look at what you, as an employer, can do to reduce stress in your workplace, let’s first take a look at some of the factors that can cause that stress. Some are perhaps more obvious than others and, for some, it might be a case of just making a simple tweak that can have positive results.
Triggers for work-related stress can be:
- Actual work environment – office layout, decor, bad lighting, unsuitable equipment for the tasks.
- Staff relationships – how do your staff work together as a team? Conflict or bullying can be a cause of stress.
- Staff feeling unappreciated or taken for granted – do you and other senior staff show the team how appreciated their hard work is?
- Staff working long hours – staff who work longer hours than they are contracted for because of heavy workload can become stressed.
- Workplace culture – if a member of staff doesn’t feel comfortable in the culture of your workplace, this can cause stress.
- Changes in management or company organisation – going through a buyout or reorganising of the company structure can be hugely unsettling and stressful for staff.
- Retraining and taking exams – the introduction of new legislation, for example, can mean some of your staff may have to retrain or take new exams in order to remain in their post. This can cause stress.
- Pressures of the job – as well as workload, jobs can be pressured because of time issues or safety. Some jobs can be dangerous by nature. Some jobs can be stressful if they involve dealing with terminal illness and loss of life.
- Lack of staff development – staff can become stressed if they feel there is no opportunity for training or promotion in the workplace. Or if they feel they have been overlooked for promotion and courses.
- Discrimination – staff who feel discriminated against for whatever reason can become stressed. Discrimination can be intentional or unintentional.
How Employers Can Reduce Stress In The Workplace
Having a work environment where staff don’t feel stressed can pay real dividends for you as an employer. If you are looking to recruit young people to your company, these days, many graduates and placing happiness at work above salary when looking for roles after leaving university. Get yourself a reputation for being a good place to work and you could have lots of the best young talent to choose from when recruitment time comes along.
Trust Your Team
As a manager or leader how do you manage your team? Micromanaging can lead to your team of staff feeling stifled and under valued and this can later lead to stress. You employ young staff because you believe they can do the job and come up with innovative ideas. Letting your staff get on with their role and making them feel trusted means the workplace will be less stressful as your staff will be happier and more productive.
Walk The Walk
Another cause of stress in the workplace can be a management team that tells employers what they should be doing…but the managers themselves are not seen to be putting in the same amount of effort. Leading by example and engaging your staff makes everyone feel feel as if they are in this together, thus reducing stress.
Have Flexible Working Hours
Where possible, flexible work hours can go a long way to reducing stress in the workplace. It might be flexi time so that staff don’t need to get stressed in rush hour traffic, trying to get to work on time, on their daily commute.
Job shares or having situations where staff can work from home can ease stress. And if there’s a major sporting event, the Fifa World Cup for example, giving staff time off work to watch this – or at least having a screen in the workplace – can boost staff happiness and relieve stress. This needs to be managed fairly as you will inevitably have staff who are not interested in sport. Those staff need to know they have not been ignored by being given the opportunity to take time out for things they want to do, too.
As well as reducing stress in the workplace and actually boosting productivity, flexible working and time off for sporting events can be a good magnet for attracting young people to apply for your jobs.
Have Wind Down Space
When staff go on breaks, where is their space and what does it look like? Stress can be reduced by creating a good space where staff can wind down from the pressures of their role. Speaking with staff about what they want and involving them in the process shows this down time is being taken seriously. You might have a pool table, pinball machine, computer games, tv – whatever your staff feel will help them to relax and, of course, whatever is suitable for your workplace. This is the type of perk that can also attract people to apply for your roles when recruitment time comes.
Make Sure Staff Take Breaks And Holidays
Are all of your staff taking their breaks and using their holiday entitlement – and are they encouraged to do so? Overwork is cause of stress and these days, around the UK. More and more workers are not taking breaks or using up their holidays because of workload and, on some occasions, because of a workplace culture where staff feel as if they are being lazy if they take those breaks.
Staff who are encouraged to use their breaks and holidays will be less likely to become stressed in the workplace and they are more likely to be more productive and able to come up with new ideas and angles for dealing with workplace challenges. Again, young people are placing a lot of value on work life balance so being a company where emphasis is placed on breaks and holidays can be good for both recruitment and staff retention.
Encourage Physical Activity
You have probably read about various studies that show how physical activity and a feel good factor go hand in hand. Physical exercise helps to improve our mood and also reduce anxiety. Doctors encourage physical activity to patients battling depression, too.
Encouraging physical activity in your workplace can make for a happier workforce where staff feel refreshed and less stressed. Obviously, not all workplaces have the space or the funds to set up a state of the art gym for their staff to go and work off a bit of excess energy during break times. If your company does have the funds, a small gym could be a good idea.
But what if you don’t have the funds or the space to set up facilities like this for your staff? Some ideas could be to encourage your staff to take walks outside during lunch breaks. Encourage them to leave their desk during breaks.
Other ideas could also be to set up running clubs, cycling groups or other physical activities that some groups of staff might want to do together either during lunch breaks or as after work activities. As well as helping with reducing stress in the workplace, group activities like this can help to boost teamwork in the workplace and also help your new young recruits to settle in quicker. If you recruit graduates, for example, they may have relocated to work for your company. Sporting activities can help them to make friends and reduce the stress of being in a whole new environment.
Hold Meaningful Staff Meetings
Some workplaces can get bogged down in having meetings where staff feel they have reached a point where they are attending meetings about having meetings. A situation where there is no end result.
As well as the important meetings that, of course, must be held, stress can be reduced in the workplace by holding regular, informal staff meetings where staff feel they can openly raise any issues they might have. These meetings can also be a forum for staff to share any successes for the company. A completed project or an award that’s been won, for example. Again, this can bring your team closer together. Informal staff meetings can also be the time where new Apprentices or those on your graduate programme can be welcomed to the company and they can introduce themselves to those who might be working in other departments.
Informal staff meetings can be monthly or quarterly just for an hour or so in working hours. If the funds are there, you could order a takeaway buffet meal for staff. If you are a startup or an SME and those funds don’t exist, make it a fun event by encouraging staff to make something and bring it in to share during the staff meeting.
Have Regular Social Activities
As well as informal staff meetings and sporting groups, regular social activities can also help to reduce stress in the workplace. Try to make them varied and at different times so that all staff can have the opportunity to join in. For example, going to the local pub might seem a great idea but if you have just employed some young school leavers on an Apprenticeship scheme, they won’t be old enough to drink or their parents might not be too happy about them being in the pub.
As well as enjoying drinks at the pub, you could do team building days with specialist companies or nights out and day trips to local attractions such as roller rinks or ice rinks. A time for staff to spend time together without being in the workplace means they can get to know each other better. This builds a stronger team and also reduces stress.
Be Involved In The Local Community
Sponsoring a local youth team or doing charity fundraisers for local charities can help to reduce stress in the workplace. Staff feel like they are working for a company that cares about investing in the local community as well as making money.
Why Take The Time To Reduce Stress In The Workplace?
Taking proactive steps to reduce stress in the workplace is a win win situation. The company benefits and the staff benefit, too. Making the effort to make sure your staff are happy and as stress free as possible comes with the following benefits:
- A good reputation for your company – and this means the best young talent will be clamouring to join your team doing student jobs, Apprenticeships and graduate schemes.
- Higher productivity – countless studies show that happy and healthy staff who take breaks and feel valued are much more productive than overworked, stressed out staff.
- Good staff morale – this, again, is good for your staff retention and your recruitment as your company will build a reputation for being a great place to work.
- Reduction in costs – A happy, healthy staff are less likely to take time off sick. This reduces your costs for sick pay, temporary cover staff and also recruitment costs.
If you are looking to recruit young staff to your workplace, why not place your ad with us at E4S and reach some of the UK’s best young talent.