Recent statistics from the Health and Safety Executive show that stress continues to be a major problem for British workplaces, with 595,000 workers suffering from work-related stress.
What can employers do to help employees deal with stress? And how can employers create working environments that are more positive and less stressful?
For colleagues, the advice is familiar:
Use healthy outlets for stress
When we're stressed, it's tempting to turn to alcohol or cigarettes for relief. But these short-term fixes do nothing to address the underlying issues, and tend to exacerbate our stress and anxiety. Rather than trying to obscure problems, it's much more effective to confront issues directly.
While running or cycling won't change the things causing you stress, exercise can help you release tension and improve your overall fitness, which can also help you cope with stressful situations.
The most stressful situations are often those that we can't control. And sometimes, when we're feeling overwhelmed, we may avoid the situations or problems that are causing us stress. This, in turn, makes us feel less in control, and more worried about the problem.
Confronting our problems is often a useful first step in reducing the stress they cause. Simply addressing the problem and looking for solutions can help us feel like the problem is more controlled and less powerful.
Connect with people
Friends and colleagues can be an enormous source of strength. Even if the people around you can't change the underlying issue that's causing you stress, their presence can help you unwind – or at least listen while you vent.
Make time for yourself
People in the UK work the longest hours in Europe – so we may not always have enough time for unwinding and enjoying ourselves. But this lack of personal time can contribute to a sense of stress. Make sure you fill your life with more than work, and set aside time regularly for seeing friends and doing the things you love.
Find a bigger challenge
Taking on a new challenge can sometimes help people to develop their confidence and distract themselves from a source of stress. And by focusing on something new, you may be able to gain a new perspective on your stress.
What causes workplace stress?
As for employers, it's worth understanding the main causes of workplace stress:
- Workload pressures
- Unrealistic deadlines
- Lack of managerial support.
Does your organisation do enough to support workers – and minimise the causes of stress? If your colleagues are often taking time off because of stress, you may need to assess your working practices and environments to identify the causes of stress.
Stress management eLearning from DeltaNet
If stress is affecting your colleagues, or you just want to prevent problems before they arise, our eLearning courses can help. We have a wide range of health and safety and compliance eLearning programmes, as well as specific courses on managing stress. You can either choose our courses as off-the-shelf packages, or we can customise the learning to suit your organisation.