Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Work-related stress: Five things every employer should know

Workplace stress poster
Workplace stress posters
Stress posters

Experts say we all need some pressure at work. It can be a positive and motivating force – even exciting with the thrill of the deadline and the camaraderie of the team. But if the pressure becomes excessive, that's when stress can creep in.

So what are the five things every employer should know?

1. The scale of the problem
Around half a million UK workers say they have suffered from some form of work-related stress. The estimated cost to Great Britain is £530 million and around 14 million lost working days each year.

The problem is widespread and appears to be growing. The HSE reports that the number of people suffering from work-related stress has more than doubled since 1990. (Source)

2. The causes of work-related stress
Stress manifests itself in different ways and is not attributable to a single cause as it often depends on the person. They may feel:

  • overwhelmed by the demands of their job;
  • stifled by having no control over the way they work;
  • isolated and without enough support or information;
  • uninformed about upcoming changes;
  • unsettled if their role and responsibilities are not clearly defined; or
  • intimdated or humiliated by bullying behaviour.

3. How work-related stress can affect your employees
In the short-term stress can cause feelings of anxiety and negativity coupled with poor memory and confusion.

Repeated exposure to stress over a longer period may result in physical symptoms, such as headaches, increased blood pressure/heart rate, muscle tension and upset stomachs.

In the long term these symptoms can become worse and even develop into more serious conditions such as depression, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Rather than seeking help from their employer or GP, those experiencing stress often resort to smoking, drinking or comfort eating, which puts an even bigger strain on their health.

4. How work-related stress can affect your business
For starters, employees under stress may exhibit poor performance at work. They may be less productive and more prone to making mistakes. Over time this may start to impact on your quality, service or customers.

Research shows that groups of employees under stress are more prone to disputes, grievances and general unrest.

More worryingly, stress can cause disturbed sleep, which can be very dangerous, especially if the employee is a driver or operates heavy machinery.

According to Bupa, work-related stress is one of the main causes of sick leave in the UK, with one in six working adults claiming to have suffered from it. Empoyees off sick causes extra stress and pressure for those employees who are left to pick up the slack.

Rather than seeking help from their employer, the employee may just decide to look for another job. This could mean that the time, effort and expense taken to recruit and train the person could all go to waste.

5. How you can tackle work-related stress

Educate your employees 

Explain the difference between positive pressure and negative stress. Make sure they are aware of the symptoms i.e. what is normal and what they should be concerned about.

Encourage them to talk to someone
In the first instance they should talk to a supervisor or manager about the problem. This is a vital first step in getting to the root of the issue and resolving it.

Give practical advice
Are they approaching the task in the best way and with the right attitude? Are they overcomplicating a task or making extra work for themselves? Would they benefit from further training? Are they taking care of their health (getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, keeping hydrated etc)

Kodiak's motivational poster programme regularly covers stress and the issues surrounding it to educate and advise your employees.

To find out more about how Kodiak's posters can help you manage stress in your workplace, please contact us.

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If you would like to find out how Kodiak posters 
can help your business work smoother, smarter 
and safer, please call us on: 01530 456 000 
or email us.

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