We are often asked about wellbeing in the workplace – especially when it comes to employees who have been signed off work with stress or have issues with constant absence or underperformance. Rest assured you are not alone – more and more employers are struggling with the long-term absence or poor performance from employees due to stress or lifestyle imbalance.
With the pending forthcoming disability discrimination legislation on the horizon, employers will need to be prepared. There is no sure fire way to completely avoid stress in the workplace but there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood and impact of stress on employees.
Main factors contributing to workplace stress:
- Demands – workload, work patterns, too much responsibility, tight deadlines;
- Control – the employee feels little control over their work or the way they carry out their role;
- Support – lack of resources, encouragement, investment and mentoring received from the organisation, line managers and colleagues;
- Relationships – poor working relationships/communications with colleagues leading to disagreements and conflict;
- Role – lack of understanding of their role in the organisation;
- Change – alteration to duties or team restructuring without due warning or proper management.
Recognising signs of stress:
- Declining or inconsistent performance – errors, loss of motivation, indecision, memory lapses;
- Withdrawal – arriving late, leaving early, absenteeism, resigned attitude, reduced social contact;
- Regression – crying, argumentative, undue sensitivity, irritability, moodiness, overreacting, sulking;
- Aggression – malicious gossip, criticising others, vandalism, shouting, bullying, harassment, poor employee relations, temper outbursts;
- Absence – frequent or excessive sick leave for varied reasons (not always identified as stress).
Reasonable steps you can take to help minimise stress:
- Transfer the employee to another position/area
- Redistribute work/offer flexible working
- Provide extra support
- Arrange treatment – offer counselling, mentoring or buddying;
- Get expert advice – Guernsey Mind, HR resources
Other things to consider:
- Carry out a stress audit – ask employees to list their concerns in respect of stress;
- Carry out return to work interviews after sickness absence;
- Provide regular performance appraisals and surveys to help identify any underlying stress-related reason for absence or poor performance;
- Ensure the employee has clear goals/responsibilities;
- Training for employees to recognise situations likely to cause stress and how to manage stressful situations;
- Ensure there is a wellness at work policy;
- Ensure that all employees know how and whom to raise concerns;
- Gain support through occupational health or independent confidential counselling;
How we can help
Prism profiling – online tool for behaviour mapping – helping employees understand their underlying and avoided behaviours and how to make the best of these behaviours. How to recognise areas where stress may be apparent and coaching through this. Recognising other people’s characteristics and behavioural preferences and how to manage these. It is possible to map a team to identify team behaviours and where strengths and weaknesses lie.
Help with absenteeism monitoring – ensuring sickness absence is monitored and recorded in order to recognise potential concerns with employee absence.
- Providing sickness absence policies and Bradford factor monitoring.
- Help with return to work interviews.
Conducting staff surveys – tailor-made staff surveys to gain insight from employees on things like workload, environment, appraisal process, support from management, work-life balance, teamwork, salary, and benefits.
Policy writing – formation of policies for bullying and harassment, wellness policy, sickness absence, and Bradford factor policy.
Performance Appraisals – forming and checking appraisals to ensure they cover what they need to and ensuring it allows freedom to discuss employees concerns.
Organising counselling and training – providing one to one support for individuals and referring for further counselling if needed.
- Looking at options to offer ongoing employee assistance scheme either through existing healthcare provisions or introducing one.
- Organising training for staff and employers on how to recognise and manage stress through our recommended providers.
- Organising occupational health assessments as required.
If you have any concerns about the wellbeing of your employees or would like to learn more about any of the services we can offer then please do not hesitate to get in touch.