Beyond The PayCheck...
How to Help Reduce Stress At Work & Keep Your Workforce Happy
If you’re here, you’re probably a responsible, caring and conscientious employer with a keen interest in your employees’ well-being. Having personal experiences of fantastic companies with effective leadership, in which I was able to thrive, to toxic cultures that are harmful to your health, as well as being a therapist who works with women to help them improve their mental well-being, I can give you hints and tips to help reduce stress at work and keep your workforce happy.
Over the last few years, the UK workforce has drastically changed. The pandemic and lockdown made people re-evaluate their lives as a whole and also their relationship with work.
I’ll never forget popping into the supermarket to do the big shop in lockdown, being starved of human interaction beyond my immediate family and overhearing a conversation between two men…it went a little something like this…
“We sit down together now and have a meal instead of all being in separate rooms or watching the TV. We actually talk to each other! It makes me wonder why the hell I was running around always working for?!”
It was one of those conversations I knew at that exact moment I would remember. A question on the tip of people’s lips… If work can be taken away from me at any moment, what has it all been for?
Employers have had to drastically change to keep up with the new norm; working from home gave people the freedom they have never experienced before, so getting your employees back to the office has been a challenge, to say the least. It also gave people options that they never had before… So many people tie their identity up to what they do for a living. They need to see it as worthwhile or not at all…for some, it is not just a means to an end. They value what they do. It gives them a purpose in life. And when it gets difficult at work, more than just that part of their life is affected.
Due to the increasing demands, some employers put on workers, the cost of living increases, people are being pushed to the brink! Employees are being more careful about who they choose to work for. Yes, I say choose because we are currently in an employee market, meaning that recruitment for employers is difficult; roles remain vacant and employees have the pick of the bunch. I recently spoke to a friend who said they were leaving their current work due to more pressure and feeling less valued. Funnily enough she secured a position at the job she left the year before because that role remained vacant for nearly a year. Additionally, teachers striking is at an all-time high since 1989, which is a perfect example of what happens when employers increasingly demand more of their workers and the conditions or pay are not reflected in that. Plus, the current UK job market is tight. Vacancies remain unfilled, and more people are looking for part-time vacancies rather than full-time positions; therefore it is even more important to keep your valued employees relatively stress-free and happy.
Yes, many factors affect performance at work that are part and parcel of life, such as births, relationship issues, the death of a loved one, finances, and health issues… We are multifaceted and complex beings leading not-so-simple lives…
So what happens if work is the source of stress?… What can you do as a responsible and caring employer to support your workforce and reduce stress at work?
Employers can help reduce stress at work for employees in several ways, including:
1. Providing clear expectations and goals
Employers can ensure that employees understand their roles and responsibilities. Having clear goals and expectations. If you, as an employer, are unhappy with the performance, tell your employee in a way that allows them to rectify it, with your full support behind them to do so. Is there a reason why they are not achieving? Has something happened at home? Do they lack the skill to perform in that area? Is further training required? There are lots you can do to empower your workforce, even if, at first, a difficult conversation is to be had.
2. Creating a positive work environment
Employers can foster a positive work environment by promoting good communication, recognising employee achievements, and encouraging teamwork. But let’s not stop there! Another element that can add to a positive work environment is humour! I came across a LinkedIn post that highlighted how important being able to have a laugh at work was. Yes, we have to be mindful of the humour used; however, a good laugh at work amongst colleagues can go a long way. Allow the chitter chatter, allow a belly laugh and mingling, it will only add to a productive and happy workforce.
3. Offering flexibility
Employers can offer flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or flexible hours, to help employees balance work and personal responsibilities and reduce stress. Employers have recently had to renegotiate the working conditions due to the pandemic, and as a result, employees feel they have a much better work-life balance.
4. Promoting work-life balance
Employers can encourage employees to take breaks, use their vacation time, and prioritise self-care to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Avoid giving in one hand and then taking in the other. Demonstrate this with your actions and how you treat employees.
5. Providing training and development opportunities
Offering training and development opportunities can help employees feel more confident and competent in their roles, reducing their stress levels. The working environment should elevate and upskill your workforce rather than deskill them.
6. Offering support and resources
Employers can offer support and resources for employees dealing with stress, such as access to mental health services or stress management workshops. Mental health is increasingly spoken about now and more widely accepted as an issue; much like sick days for physical health, people embrace that looking after your mind is just as important as looking after your body. As a self-confessed advocate for employees and a therapist working with body and mind therapies, I increasingly see the long-term effects that stress and anxiety can have on the body. Looking after your mind by managing your emotions and having tools in the long term to deal with issues arising from life events is the way forward.
My well-being at work Stress Busting Sessions aims to:
- Educate employees about the negative impact that stress has overall on the body
- Teach ways they can manage stress symptoms healthily
- Understand the positive effect that dealing with the stressors in life can have on the overall quality of life.
As part of the Stress Busting Sessions we:
- Explore the toxic and helpful ways we destress
- Participants learn new strategies and tools to be stress-free
- as well as a relaxation experience to take away with them
Well-being workshops, education around stress and how to manage stress in life. As well as one-to-one support for your workforce to tap into more complex issues can help towards a supportive work environment that promotes employee well-being, reduces stress levels, and increases productivity and retention rates.
More importantly, your employees will feel valued as an individual and part of the team, which builds a more efficient and successful business.
About the author
Serena Bostock is a professionally qualified Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy Practitioner; an advocate for employees and their well-being at work. In her 18-year career within the Health and Social Care Sector, Serena has facilitated hundreds of workshops, CPD and training delivered to young people, professionals, and post and undergraduates.
To find out more about how you can work with Serena, contact her via email or check out her Service Offers for Clients, Practitioners and Organisations brochure.