Here are our 6 top tips for dealing with stress in the workplace.
1 Identify the causes of stress in your workplace
Do your work practices allow employees to take regular rest breaks and switch off after work? Have ex-employees attributed stress for the reason for leaving the business? Have there been a high number of people who have submitted grievances for bullying or harassment?
It is essential to identify all workplace stressors and conduct risk assessments to eliminate or control the risks from stress. These assessments should be reviewed and monitored regularly.
2 Identify the employee’s concern and take the appropriate action
Spotting the signs of stress early means you can take the appropriate steps to nip the issues in the bud and avoid issues spiralling out of control. To successfully do this, managers should be given the appropriate training and resources.
Depending on the cause of stress, different action will be required:
- If you are making significant changes to the workplace, informing and consulting with the employee about the proposed changes and giving them timescales can help the employee feel less anxious.
- If an employee is stressed due to comments or acts by their colleagues, you will need to make sure your employees know that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated; refer to your bullying and harassment policies and encourage employees to report any incidents. If allegations of bullying and harassment are well founded, take appropriate action.
- If the employee feels they are not receiving sufficient support in the workplace, consider the adequacy of communication channels and employee relationships within the workplace. Communication is key.
- If the employee doesn’t understand their role or feels they have conflicting job demands, give them the clarification they need about their day to day work responsibilities.
- If the employee feels like they have too much work to do, review their workload and think about whether any work can be redistributed to others in the team.
3 Provide the necessary support
Employers can reap the rewards of fostering a work culture that allows employees to speak to you about concerns. Of course, it is hard to get people to open up. Some will be ashamed or embarrassed. Others will think it will be seen as sign of weakness. However, if you can show that you are sympathetic, open-minded and willing to listen, this can go a long way.
If appropriate, you should offer access to counselling, health services or help lines.
4 Carrying out return to work interviews after absences
If you notice that the employee is taking frequent, short-term absences, carrying out return to work interview is a good way to explore the reasons and nature of the absence. If there are signs that that they are suffering from work-related stress, you can consider what practical steps can be taken to assist the employee.
5 Train your managers
Your managers and supervisors may need training in good management practices. In particular, they may need to receive training on how to spot signs of stress, dealing with bullying, harassment or other types of unacceptable behaviour and how to ensure that there is good communication within the business.
6 Consult with Safety Representatives
You should consult with Safety Representatives on issues relating to the prevention of work-related stress.
At Ellis Whittam, our Employment Law Advisers and Health & Safety Consultants can provide you bespoke and tailored advice to ensure that you are fulfilling your legal obligations and doing what is in the best interests for your business.