A working life that’s totally free from stress is near impossible. So many people were unsurprised when statistics broke earlier this year saying that 90% of UK employees feel high levels of anxiety in the office. And while work should be an energising and stimulating experience, employees should not be riddled with workplace fear and high levels of stress over something as trivial as a PDF file – or calling in sick.
Some employers might think they’re doing enough to encourage employee health and wellbeing, such as offering free lunches or discounted gym memberships. But failing to ‘check-in’ and ask employees how they’re ‘getting on’ at a personal level can really hinder productivity and isolate vulnerable employees, possible leaving them more stressed.
So what can employers do to lower stress levels in their office for the rest of this, and next year?
1.”Be clear with what is expected of your employees” – David Brudö, CEO, Remente
A considerable factor making stress so prominent in today’s workplace is the shifting nature of managerial expectations. An employee in 2019 is now expected to possess a broad set of skills and in particular, be flexible and adaptable.
Although this can, of course, be a positive thing, it also implies that employers are becoming less and less clear in what they actually need from their employees.
The stress that I have personally experienced has consistently emanated from a lack of understanding about what was expected of me. To prevent stress creeping in your workplace, make it clear what your employees’ goals are, both in the short-term and long-term, and break down how they might reach those objectives.
2. “Allow employees to work remotely”- Sion Lewis, Vice President of EMEA at LogMeIn
The concept of the nine to five job is quickly becoming obsolete, with many organisations now demanding employees stay long hours to ensure they are hitting targets.
The knock-on effect this has on employees’ mental, physical and emotional wellbeing can significantly impact business success and personal happiness – making it critical that employers and employees alike take time to understand the keys to living a well-balanced work-life, free from the detrimental effects of stress.
An area being widely adopted by organisations to alleviate stress at work is remote working. According to recent research, 50% of the UK workforce is set to work remotely by 2020. In today’s climate, this will improve employee wellbeing by allowing staff to work when and where they’re most efficient, and provide more freedom to ensure productivity.
To make sure they strike the right balance, employers should listen to their people’s needs, show that staff are appreciated and trusted, and adjust to this rise in remote working as an evolution of workplace culture. The rise of technological advancements and new working techniques, if implemented correctly, will facilitate this to enhance productivity, boost morale and improve the general wellbeing of organisations.
3.”Forget team building activities” – Jonathan Gawthrop, Director of Health, Safety & Wellbeing, EMCOR UK
When it comes to tackling stress in the workplace, yoga and other team activities seem to be on the rise. However, one big factor is usually overlooked – the physical environment in offices.
Did you know that poor air quality inside our workplaces can have a big impact on employee wellbeing? Most overlooked are the levels of CO2 in the office, often mistaken for ‘stuffiness’.
If left unmonitored, high CO2 levels can have an immense impact on people’s productivity and health – including poor decision-making, slower reaction times and increased tiredness. In our recent research, we found that workers were able to work 38% faster when C02 levels were lower.
Despite widespread concern from both business and government regarding the UK’s productivity levels compared to its European neighbours, small changes and regular monitoring could improve workplace stress across the country.
4. “Introduce a wellness break” – Debbie Williams, co-founder, John Williams Heating Services
Our office is very busy, especially in the morning as engineers come in to collect kit and equipment for their day and phones are ringing off the hook.
When you start work at 8.30 am and it’s so busy, by 11.30 am you can be tired and stressed out. Recently we’ve introduced a ‘wellness break’ between 11 am and 111.15 every day where all phones are turned off and everyone can just take a break.
We’ve brought in fresh fruit magazines and we are allowing everyone to just take some time out to do something different.
For us, it’s about the wellness of staff and giving them an opportunity to regain some energy and be calm by doing something different, something random. They can go out for a walk, read a book or magazine – all to help them de-stress – with no fear around being ‘told off’ about not ‘doing their job’.
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