Workplace stress is on the rise, with more than half (51%) of all work-related ill health cases being caused by stress, depression or anxiety, up from 40% in 2014. In total, over 800,000 workers were affected last year, resulting in 17.9 million working days lost across the UK — a huge economic blow for businesses.
Stress can be caused by factors both in and outside the workplace, but some demographics report higher rates of stress than others. HSE’s 2020 work-related stress, anxiety and depression statistics found that female employees are more impacted by stress than males, especially in the 25 – 44 age group. Those working at larger companies (over 250 employees) are also more likely to experience stress, with instances of stress per 100,000 workers almost double that of small businesses (less than 50 employees).
Many employees are at risk of burnout
Regardless of its source, consistent high-pressure will impact mental health and productivity across a business, leading to low morale. Our Emergency Exit report found that 62% of employees have been working longer hours since the start of the pandemic, and 51% feel they’re less than a month away from burnout.
All too often, the first employers hear of stress is when their people reach breaking point and take time off to rest and recover. By this point, the impact of stress has already reached the wider team, and colleagues will require increased support to protect their mental health.
How to support your people
While stress is inevitable in life, it must be carefully managed to allow people to perform at their best and avoid burnout. So how can employers support their people in stressful times?
- Encourage an open culture where stress and mental health can be discussed.
Recent years have seen a real push to remove the stigma around mental health, but how does your company culture reflect this? Stress levels and workload management should be a regular point of discussion in employee 1:1s and catch-ups, and businesses should perform a stress risk assessment to ensure they’re prepared to take action when stress strikes.
- Develop policies around work-life balance and flexible working options.
While flexible working is limited in some sectors, prioritising work-life balance is key to avoiding burnout. Develop guidance to encourage your people to stick to their working hours, switch off after work and take time out when needed.
- Support employees to become resilient using 1:1 coaching or group webinars.
Help employees help themselves by offering regular training on stress and mental health. Our wellbeing webinars can build resilience in your team and help your people cope in moments of high pressure. Training and webinars are a great way to complement your wider stress management policy by offering practical advice for individuals.
- Offer training for senior leaders and managers so they can lead by example.
Your leaders set the precedent for your company culture, so ensure your management team are proactive about managing their stress levels. If managers take regular breaks, respect their work-life balance and openly discuss their mental health, employees will feel empowered to do the same.
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