An optimum level of stress can be motivating and invigorating. With no stress at all there would be no motivation to get out of bed! But too much stress can lead to health problems, which can lead to lower productivity levels, absence and even losing that member of staff. Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (source) suggests that stress is the number one cause of workplace absence, and poorer performance in areas such as concentration, decision making and customer service from those who struggle to attend. This means that managing people with mental health problems in the workplace is just as important as absence management.
The survey found that only 37% of employers support employees with mental health problems, with only a quarter (25%) saying their employers encouraged employees to talk about their problems.
- Good people management skills from front-line managers and supervisors (coaching, consulting and developing rather than bullying or giving excessive workloads)
- Spotting early signs (e.g. changes in behaviour) and offering support such as a referral to occupational health professionals, or maybe just adjusting workloads and expectations
- Offering employees access to support, such as occupational health, debt counselling, substance addiction services and employee assistance programmes – often identifying problems early mean they can be resolved before the employee reaches a crisis
- Employers should conduct regular risk assessments for stress, ensuring their working environment supports rather than undermines employee resilience
The Health and Safety Executive’s Management Standards provide a useful tool for conducting a stress risk assessment (see here) and you might like to consider becoming a “Mindful Employer” (more about this in the next blog)