Stress could be costing business bosses dear in long-term employee absences, a new poll suggests.
Nearly half of UK businesses (45%) rated mental health illness and stress as the primary reason behind staff long-term sickness.
A further quarter said this is the main cause behind short-term absences, according to the Group Risk Development (GriD) report.
GRiD spokesperson Katharine Moxham said there is an increasing requirement for initial intervention schemes to help staff in coping with stress and assisting them to return to work.
Here are some top ways to tackle workplace stress among your staff:
Keep your eyes peeled
Many workers are reluctant to come forward if they are feeling stressed as they think it will alter their manager’s perception of them. However, the earlier you spot the signs that someone is stressed, the quicker you can take action to help them, so it’s important to keep your eyes peeled for warning signs.
If a staff member starts missing deadlines, is suffering from mood swings and starts ringing in sick more frequently or turning up late, it might be worth having an informal chat with them and checking everything is ok.
NHS Choices claims that British staff endure Europe’s longest hours – at a typical 40 days’ unremunerated overtime every year. One in four bosses think that staff keeping an acceptable work/life balance is a major priority.
Make it clear that staff are not expected to work unpaid overtime and encourage people to leave on time and take their full lunch break each day. Bosses can set a good example by making sure they head off home at 5.30pm on the dot; often workers feel pressure to stay in the office if they can see their manager is still hard at work.
Have an open door policy
Small problems can soon escalate into larger issues if employees let them play on their mind and don’t seek any help or advice. Make it clear that your door is always open to your team if they wish to come and air their concerns.
You could also hold regular forums where staff can raise any questions or problems or have an area on the intranet where workers can raise issues anonymously.
When staff do raise issues, it is important that you follow up at a later date, even if you can’t completely solve the problem, so they can see you are taking their concerns on board.
Create a positive atmosphere
Nobody wants to go to work each day in a dreary, gloomy office so make sure that your workspace is calming and positive. Banish empty, grey walls in favour of hanging colourful artwork and encourage workers to bring in bits and pieces from home to personalise their desks. It might also be worth considering having the radio playing in the background to stop the place being eerily quiet.
Give staff things to look forward to
It may be a cup of top quality coffee, a monthly team lunch outing or beers round people’s desks on a Friday, but giving staff things to look forward to across the working week will help spur them on and make any particularly tough days seem more manageable.