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Stress Awareness Month: Spotting the Signs

Stressful woman looking at chart on paper

Everyone has experienced stress at work – to an extent, it’s a normal part of working life. Things such as deadlines, demands and long days are to be expected, but sometimes the stress of these can become too much, it can start to take its toll on employees, both physically and mentally. With it being Stress Awareness Month, it’s the ideal time to start considering the impact that stress might be having on your employees and workplace.

More than 1 in 4 Canadian workers describe their day-to-day lives as highly stressful with 6 in 10 identifying work as their main source of stress. The Canadian Mental Health Commission was given funding to action the prevalence of depression and anxiety reported by Canadian workers. These facts and figures prove that stress does impact employees and businesses as a whole.

Stress can have a big impact on the productivity levels for businesses. Many employees worry about discussing the effects for fear of being seen as unable to handle their workload, or potentially viewed as a weak member of their team. Consequentially they may be suffering in silence and unlikely to be open with you about the struggles they are experiencing. So, how do you know if your employees are battling stress?

Signs of stress

  • Reduced productivity – stress could be the cause if you notice the performance of an employee who is usually engaged and productive starts to slide
  • Emotions running hot/cold – an employee who has an emotional outburst that’s different to their usual demeanour could be a sign that they are struggling
  • Social withdrawal – if an employee is usually sociable and talkative and you notice that they are starting to withdraw from their usual social interactions, they could be feeling the effects of stress
  • Absenteeism – an increased amount of employee sick days should be a cause for concern, as stress could be at the root of the issue

Wider spread signs of stress across the workforce, such as increased absenteeism, rising staff disputes and a higher employee turnover. Once you have identified potential problems with stress in your workplace, it’s now time to take action. To start having conversations with your employees some of the most commonly reported causes of stress in businesses include an unmanageable workload, lack of support, and significant changes. Take these factors into consideration when working towards a low-stress working environment.

Reducing stress

  • Ownership of own activities – increase their ownership over things such as being able to manage their own time and planning their own work schedules. It’s shown that this level of autonomy and trust from employers will make employees feel trusted, valued and more in control of their own work
  • Review workload – if workload is causing the most stress to your employees, look into ways of reducing it. Work should be challenging, but ensure it is realistic. By helping your employees to prioritize their jobs, cut out unnecessary tasks and provide them the platform and knowledge they can speak up if they’re starting to struggle stress will decrease
  • Work-life balance – make sure that your staff have got a healthy work-life balance. Ensure that they are using their allocated vacation time, encourage them to use their lunch hour to relax and remind them to step away from their work emails after the working day is done
  • Open door policy – adopting an open door policy will make employees feel supported and appreciated with any problems they are dealing with. This in turn will increase loyalty towards your business, all of which will help increase overall
  • Practice what you preach – lead by example. Make sure that you’re also taking regular breaks and not working around the clock so your employees don’t feel the pressure to mirror the same behaviour

Ignoring the impact of stress could mean that your business could potentially lose valuable members of staff and lose revenue through low productivity. It’s important to adopt a working culture that offers your employees support and understanding to those suffering from stress.

How do you reduce stress in your workplace? Let us know on Twitter or LinkedIn, and join the conversation using #StressAwarenessMonth.

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