Work and Wellbeing · 26 September 2019

What is workplace stress and how to stop it

The “eight till late” culture that permeates Britain has employees experiencing new levels of stress. More than two-fifths of British workers say they regularly lose sleep as a result of workplace demands. But why is it that we live in a society that promotes an unhealthy attitude towards work? Why do we celebrate employees who stretch beyond their limits, answer calls outside of office hours and respond to emails on the weekends?

The fear of being labelled lazy or unproductive has moulded a generation of employees who live to work as opposed to working to live. Do your employees suffer from stress in the workplace? And if so, how can you help deal with the mounting pressures?

Workplace stress often manifests itself in a manner that is not as obvious as one may think. It’s not an employee ripping their hair out at their desk or hysterically crying. Typically workers find themselves run down, suffering from migraines or trouble concentrating on small tasks.

Do your staff have a ‘proper’ lunch break? 

The average lunch break in the UK is just 31 minutes.

This may sound surprising but the average lunch break-in the average UK workplace is just 31 minutes.  In addition to this many employees find themselves eating lunch at their work desk whilst catching up on additional tasks. Encouraging your employees to take a deserved break away from the confines of the office space can help them de-stress.

This can be as simple as going for a walk or eating their lunch in a local park.

Don’t pressure your employees to work outside of office hours 

Would a ban on sending emails during the weekend eliminate workplace stress?

Despite the fact that it takes and 1hr and 49minutes to switch off after the working weekend. Almost 72% of workers check their emails over the course of the weekend. It is important when running a business to mould a culture which does not punish employees for choosing not to engage with corporate material on the weekends.

The desire to ‘switch off’ over weekends is evident in the 47% of UK workers who would like to see an email ban implemented at the weekends. However, over 54% of business owners do not want this to take effect. While the term “weekend recovery” is often associated with people in manual labour  – it is just as crucial for nine to fiver workers also.  Allowing your employees to detach themselves from work at the weekend has been psychologically proven to them operating more productively during the paid week.

Forget shallow work perks 

Shallow work-perks are not enough to reduce stress levels.

With over 60% of UK workers experiencing loneliness in the workplace, as an employer, you need to look beyond offering up a team lunch or renting a trendy shared workspace to alleviate the work pressures your employees may be feeling. If you have the responsibility of leading a business, do not for one minute think that glossing over important issues such as anxiety or a negative working culture can be erased with a free breakfast. These tactics or ‘shallow work perks’ may improve things for the short term, but they avoid the deeper issues going on. These more serious issues will continue to crop up if nothing is done about them.

How to encourage employees to reduce their stress levels

  • Plan ahead – at the end of the day they should write out their tasks for the next

  • Start the day with the hardest task – encourage them to take on their most daunting tasks during the mornings

  • Limit distractions – encourage them to put their ‘out of office’ alert on when they need uninterrupted time to complete important tasks

  • Have a shutdown ritual – Set a definite boundary about when work is finished for the day

  • Rest the brain – encourage employees to work in a balanced way and during the same set of hours every day

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Laura is the Junior Reporter at Real Business and Business Advice. She's the first point of call for any PR, business owner or industry insider looking to tell a story of entrepreneurial inspiration, retell some key advice, or a ground-breaking news story. She is the core ambassador for the brand(s) and can be found attending high profile events and meeting disruptive business owners across London – and beyond.

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