Stress awareness month April 2018

National Stress Awareness month April 2018
Your staff are your greatest asset. The more they feel supported the less it costs companies in recruitment

Your staff are your greatest asset


There is evidence that shows having engaged employees leads to increased productivity and an overall happier environment. Consequently, this is why Stress Awareness Month 2018 is so important.

Boredom, lack of structure and bullying often causes the good employees to find alternative employment.

Physical symptoms that appear in stressed groups of people

  • poor performance
  • increased staff turnover
  • sickness and absence increase
  • workplace disputes within the group go up
  • grievances and complaints are more likely

HSE’s management standards for Stress Awareness include:

  1. Workload – too much or too little, and work patterns such as shifts can make an impact
  2. Micromanaging – If the employees are not given the chance to take responsibility to complete their work without interference, they are more likely find alternative employment.
  3. Relationships – Employees are to be treated with respect. Bullying and harassment are unacceptable.
  4. Support – It is not fair on the employee if they are not given sufficient training.
  5. Change – changes often have to happen. As a result, it’s only fair that all staff are aware of these changes and how it will affect them.
  6. Responsibilities – If an employee has no responsibilities they are more likely to do shoddy work. Give them roles they understand will help them achieve good results.

Employers can help their staff with Stress Awareness

The environment can be a factor in the mental health of employees. Putting aside quiet space, maybe with planting can help employees relax and take time out from workstations.

I originally trained as an Architect and environmental psychology was a large piece of the training. Pale colours and plants help keep moods positive. Having dark colours or red can increase heart rates and make people feel uncomfortable. Grey is also a depressing colour in the UK, mostly because of the weather.

Make sure your staff take their breaks away from their desks. Allowing them to go for walks at lunchtime can improve moods and concentration, and manage stress better.

Make sure you have a point of contact for your staff who can help disputes. Not all companies have HR departments and not all management are people persons.

Instigate mindfulness sessions. This is great for problem-solving, stress management and increasing creativity.

Example of poor management

Casey works for an IT company who employs about 100 staff. The senior positions are all taken by the same family, most of whom have little experience of with IT  or management. She’s employed there as an expert in her field – e-commerce. She has a family, a husband Peter who has a less well-paid job and two children – Josh 7 and Lily 9. Most of her earnings pay for the mortgage on their 3 bedroom house in Oxfordshire.

Her boss is aggressive, he bullies others and often shouts at the nearest person he can find. She avoids any contact if possible. Many of her co-workers are also finding working to their true potential difficult as the MD has made it clear to them all, that they are paid to do as he tells them, thinking for themselves is not part of the job.

She knows that this approach is wrong, as taking responsibility for one’s own work, makes for a happier workforce, and allows creativity to explore new and interesting ways to develop their product.

Consequently, most of the intelligent workers are only doing what they are asked and spending the rest of their time on their own projects, or like Casey looking for another job.

Her beliefs

Her beliefs about herself have changed as a consequence of this. Before, she thought she was smart, witty, intelligent and able to cope well under pressure. But now, this being her third job in the industry which had gone terribly wrong, she was wondering if it was her. Perhaps she didn’t have what it takes to develop e-commerce stores. Perhaps she was deluding herself. She felt ashamed she had done it again -chosen a rotten job. Casey really didn’t know how long she could bear the stress. She felt more depressed than ever and would self-harm by hitting her head against a wall. Her husband could sense something wasn’t right but spent many evenings doing volunteer work, so she was left at home looking after the children. After they went to bed, she would often cry herself to sleep.

Sleep was poor though. She rarely had more than 4 hours, so consequently was always drowsy and found it difficult to focus. The result was she often made mistakes in her coding, and her driving suffered. She developed a fear of driving and after a while, her husband had to drive her to work.

Stress and the immune system

Eventually, something had to give and she developed many ailments including chest infections and glandular fever.

In a bid to improve her driving, so she could get another job she undertook a course of hypnotherapy. Here she realised that she did have a choice. The trance relaxed her to the point she could understand how her thinking was making things worse for her. Her husband was right, in that it was just a job and she had the skills and talent to find another one. She learnt too to manage her stress by walking more and playing tennis with her children. She started to meditate and realised she needed to change her beliefs about her abilities, money, and her colleagues.

Read about what happened next …

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