Held every April since 1992 stress awareness month aims to raise awareness of the causes and cures for our modern-day stress epidemic.
There is no health without mental health and stress can lead to a range of health problems, from physical problems, like heart disease, insomnia, digestive issues, immune system challenges, etc. to more serious mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.
#ActNow is the slogan chosen for the 2023 campaign:
Mental health issues are something that HR professionals should be ready to address with initiatives from employee assistance programmes to mindfulness training. Good employers are responsive and sensitive to these issues in the workplace and they have a legal duty to assess the risk of stress-related ill health arising from work activities.
Leaders who promote and value the health and well-being of employees will benefit from improved engagement and retention of employees with consequent gains for performance and productivity.
Help staff to cope
Awareness is great but action is key; consider four workplace issues that can be detrimental in terms of stress, and our suggestions as to what your approach might be:
Micro-management –stresses, demotivates and discourages staff, it’s a massive waste of time and damages employee engagement. If you hire good people then management should be light touch. Hire smart, well-qualified employees then train them, brief them, give them the resources they need and let them get on with their work. Agree status checks and stick to them, but make yourself available if they need support or information, otherwise let them do the job they are so well-qualified for that you hired them!
Feedback – good employees want regular feedback because it’s an essential component of effective learning and they want to grow and develop in their role. If you use an employee-centred approach and check in with staff regularly you will soon work out how much feedback each person needs and how often. Timely feedback is more useful than an annual performance review but it’s fair to say not all employees need the same frequency of feedback. So, sales staff tend to want high touch engagement and feedback but accounts and research may well be happy if you check in with them quarterly, but ensure they know your door is open whenever they need support or advice.
Culture –can cause stress but is not something an individual manager can address. It comes from the top, takes time to build and longer to change. You can address a corporate cultural problem with clear two-way open conversations with all employees, top down and bottom up about what’s important to employees and what their values are. But crucially you have to act on those conversations because if you ask but then don’t act you’ll make things worse.
Communication – a top stress point for many employees, they are not kept informed, they don’t see the big picture or understand corporate strategy and objectives. Given how much we’ve talked about communication over the years the fact that this remains a problem shows how poorly many managers are trained. Every employee from front desk to back office should feel a sense of belonging and engagement, feel their managers care about them and give them a voice.
If you have other top tips for helping your employees manage stress, let us know on social media by clicking one of the icons below.