Stress Awareness: How Employers Can Tackle Work-Related Stress

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Danni Rush, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Incentives and Virgin Experience Days and Virgin Experience Gifts, shares her advice on how employees can tackle work-related stress.

The last couple of years have been testing. It’s no surprise that 42% of UK employees are on the brink of burnout, with 68% citing work as the main culprit. 

The pandemic has proven employees to be an integral component of a business, as such it’s crucial business leaders work to combat any work-related stress experienced by their employees. In order to address workplace stress, employers need to understand what’s causing it and the consequences of it.

Reasons why stress is on the rise

The pandemic blurred the lines between work and home life, meaning many employees have found it increasingly harder to turn off at the end of the working day. With work and home so intertwined, it makes sense for employees to feel overwhelmed by their workload, especially if it has increased/ become unmanageable. Over the last year, this has arguably been the case for a lot of employees who’ve had to pick up work on behalf of colleagues who are on sick leave or are having to isolate due to Covid-19.

The ‘great resignation’ is also a culprit. Three out of four employees are planning to quit their job this year, meaning many teams are experiencing regular team switch-ups, impacting team morale. Employees’ workload is also likely to increase in the interim between someone leaving and a replacement being hired. 

As well as the above issues, it’s been reported the average family will be £1,000 worse off per year as a result of the growing cost-of-living crisis. This additional stress will undoubtedly take a toll on employees’ overall financial wellbeing.

Don’t ignore work-related stress

If business leaders do not try to address these issues, they will likely have a direct impact on the business’s bottom line. Over the past year, 79% of HR staff reported stress-related absences amongst their employees, meaning business productivity is seriously being affected. 

Alongside increased sick leave, stress at work often leads to employees feeling distracted and unmotivated. With employees less engaged in the work they’re doing, it’s likely their performance will be impacted. Furthermore, an unhappy workforce often leads to high staff turnover which in turn translates to additional business costs for recruitment and training. All these factors will impact a business’s success.

How to tackle workplace stress

While a pay rise can go some way to resolving stresses related to the cost-of-living crisis specifically, a wider approach to tackling workplace stress is needed for businesses to have a truly long-lasting impact on the workforce.

If business leaders work to ensure employees are in regular communication with their line manager, they can spot the early signs of employee burnout and work to find ways to overcome it. Adopting a bottom-up listening approach will allow business leaders to make informed strategic decisions, with their employees’ best interests at the core.

Offering team bonding days or introducing reward and recognition schemes could also help tackle stress. As well as acknowledging employees for their hard work, a team day out could work as an alternative outlet to relieve work-related stress. For example, if team morale has been hit by the ‘great resignation’, a team away day could be the perfect antidote to integrate new starters, reward loyal employees and help stressed-out workers take their minds off things.

Another important way to support employees that are feeling overworked and stressed is to establish a robust wellbeing scheme. It’s important people know who to turn to if they are feeling overwhelmed or stressed at work. Furthermore, having an excellent benefits package in place will help to prevent any stress and wellbeing issues from occurring in the first place. For example, Virgin Incentives offers employees access to an Employee Assistance Programme, with a 24-7 confidential support service available to all employees and their immediate family members. As well as this, we also offer all team members access to a free full membership to the Headspace app, to support their mental and physical wellbeing.

Final thoughts

It’s natural for people to feel stressed at work from time to time. However, it’s important for businesses to actively work to find ways to reduce work-related stress. Having a robust wellbeing package and ensuring communication channels are in place for employees to share their worries, will help to decrease work-related stress so that employees can thrive.

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