As Mental Health Week comes to a close for this year, top tips on minimising stress in the workplace has emerged.
In 2017, 74 per cent of the British public admitted they have felt so stressed that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope according to recent research by Mental Health Foundation.
According to Deloitte, the average person spends 90,000 hours of their life working, and poor employee mental health can be triggered due to factors internal or external to the workplace. Without effective management, this can have a serious impact on physical health, productivity and more.
Studies by Manpower Group suggest that millennials display the highest levels of anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide of any generation, considering they are also simultaneously on the cusp of becoming the largest global workforce by 2020.
Many companies are still avoiding the topic of mental health in the workplace. A report by the Centre for Mental Health revealed that absence due to mental health cost the UK economy £34.9 billion last year. Additionally, the economy lost:
• £21.2 billion in reduced productivity
• £10.6 billion in sick leave
• £3.1 billion in staff turnover
Of the five million people being signed off from work every year, data from NHS showed 31 per cent are taking time out due to mental health, with a 14 per cent rise in doctors’ notes relating to anxiety and stress in one year. This is why the NHS has called on businesses to wake up to the reality of mental health and its dire effects on the wellbeing of its employees and on overall workplace success.
Here’s what employers can do, according to Instant Offices:
1. Minimise the stigma: A study from Business in the Community shows, only 53 per cent of employees feel comfortable talking about mental health issues like depression and anxiety at work. Instead of making employees feel like liabilities or burdens, employers need to take active steps to encourage conversations around these issues. Taking a mental health day or asking for support around mental health issues should not impact an employee’s reputation and how they are treated at work.
2. Pay attention: Around 91 per cent of managers agree that their actions affect their staff’s wellbeing, however, only 24 per cent of managers have received any training in mental health. This lack of training and sensitivity only works to perpetuate the culture of silence around mental health and wellbeing at work. Companies should be working to combat this by monitoring employee stress, encouraging communication and taking active steps to increase knowledge around the issue.
3. Be more flexible: There are a number of ways to boost employee engagement and happiness in the modern workplace. Around 70 per cent of employees want a say in when and how they work, and a growth in flexible working shows more businesses are responding. Introducing a flexible working option is one of the ways businesses can prioritise their employees’ personal needs while benefitting from their productivity boost, too. Nearly half of employees advocate for flexible working hours as a way to reduce workplace stress and anxiety, increase productivity, and to improve morale and engagement.
4. Introduce mental health initiatives: It is crucial to increase employee awareness of mental health at work, support employees at risk and take steps to support those suffering from mental health problems. Education is key, and strategies need to be tailor-made to suit each business and its needs. Aside from increasing workplace happiness with perks, time off and better communication, businesses need to look at long-term policies which advocate for better treatment for at-risk employees from every tier of the organisation.
5. Manage via a coaching approach: Historically, tyrannical managers focused on ‘the numbers’ or ‘getting the job done’ have been the norm, but fortunately, the modern workplace has changed. Today, the manager who adopts a more holistic approach by focusing on the growth and development of their team, personally and professionally, will see greater results and engagement.
Investing in a coaching approach has shown clear improvements across all areas and improved trust between managers and employees. Getting this balance right enables employees to speak about their levels of stress, their worries about their role and more.
Placing health and wellbeing at the heart of business can help employers attract and retain talent, improve productivity and happiness, and positively impact the bottom line.
Educating the workforce on the availability of such programmes where they can find support in a confidential and respectful manner, will help to address personal challenges before they become overwhelming.