Stress is something that we all face from time to time and it can be brought on by a number of things, both inside and outside of work.
A recent survey by employee benefits platform Perkbox found that 59% of employees feel stressed because of their work, which was the biggest cause of stress, followed by 45% who were dealing with family pressures and 45% stressed over money worries.
Whilst no job role is intrinsically stressful, it is your legal duty, as an employer, to prevent and control workplace stress.
It isn’t always easy to recognise when an employee is stressed, but there are some key identifiers that can help you spot this:
- Lateness; an employee who is rarely (or never) late suddenly turning up to work late every other day could be a sign
- Working overtime; they could be avoiding going home, or they have too much work so they are unable to complete it during the working day
- Absence; patterns of absence are a strong sign that there is an issue with your employee that needs addressing
- Isolation; if an employee isn’t interacting with their colleagues, they are avoiding social gatherings or even just choosing to isolate themselves
- Low performance; if performance suddenly declines then this is a cause for concern
- Changes in mood; a generally happy and pleasant employee is now withdrawn and melancholy
Then, once you have identified that an employee is feeling significantly stressed, you need to be aware of the various reasons why an employee may be feeling stressed so that you know what steps can be taken to support them.
Some common causes of stress include:
- Problems at home e.g. family member ill, divorce or break-up, financial struggles
- Personal health issues
- Major life event e.g. getting married, moving house, exams
- Workload has increased and they cannot keep on top of it i.e. overworked
- An approaching work event/deadline
Finally, you need a plan of action. This is why it is helpful to understand their reasons for being stressed. It’s probably best that you call the employee in for a 1-1 meeting where you address your concerns and give them an opportunity to explain why they are feeling stressed.
This opens up a discussion which enables you to work together to decide what actions to take in order to help reduce stress and the impact that it is having on the employee’s work.
Some examples would be:
- An employee who is stressed because they have recently found out a family member is ill may just need some time off such as ‘compassionate leave’
- If an employee is moving home or has some other sort of big life event going on outside of work, then you may choose to offer them flexible working for a period of time where they can work from home or adjust their hours
- When the workload is getting too much for an employee, then maybe it is time to hire some support or spread the workload amongst their colleagues
There are always things that you can do as an employer to ease the stress your staff may feel even when it is caused by factors outside of work and beyond your control.
Stressed employees can lose focus, decrease in productivity and bring down the morale in the office, so it is important that the mental health of your workers is made a priority.
If you require further advice on identifying and supporting stressed employees then our HR consultants are here to help.
We have a 24 hour advice line that connects you to an experienced HR expert whenever you need them, and we can even conduct site visits and sit in on meetings as an external support system.
Give us a call on 0845 2626 260 today and we can arrange for a free consultation and send you a quote for our services.