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Is your workplace stressed? How to spot the signs

Workplace stress is a growing problem.

According to a study by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) last year, stress is one of the main causes of workplace absence – which totals 44% of all sick days, and costs UK companies a staggering £5 billion per year.

Caring for your team’s wellbeing is vital to avoid their stress, anxiety, and depression mounting. Identifying when an employee starts to feel overwhelmed is therefore a top priority so your business is healthy and productive in the long run.

Why are our teams so stressed? In this guide, we’ll discuss the causes of workplace stress so you can spot them early, and how to address them, to reduce the impact on your team and your overall finances.

What is workplace stress?

The World Health Organisation defines work-related stress as the response people can have when work demands are not matched to their knowledge, job role, or their abilities, therefore challenging their confidence to manage the pressure.

Why are my team stressed?

Many factors influence why a person is stressed. Changes in someone’s personal life (such as separation or bereavement), difficult team dynamics, overwork, or the way a company operates can all be sources.

Though stress is good in small doses, and pushes us to be productive – too much stress can negatively impact a person’s health: both mentally and physically. Remember, not everyone handles stress in the same way, and it can often creep up without us – or the people around us – noticing.

Saying that, there are some signs to look out for that may indicate someone is stressed.

Reading the atmosphere in the office

Effective collaboration within a team requires good communication, patience, and understanding. However, if you notice an increase in arguments or conflicts between team members, this is a warning that the team is stressed and/or overworked.

If you notice this, encourage positive working and praise your employees to boost morale. Confront unacceptable behaviours (such as bullying) and schedule regular catch-ups with your team to assess their wellbeing.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Is the workload too heavy or unfairly delegated?
  • Are your deadlines manageable?
  • Do we need to call a meeting with your team to redistribute the work?

By doing this in a supportive way, you will show them that you appreciate them, and are respectful of their working needs.

If an employee starts arriving late, this could be a sign of stress 

If an employee associates the workplace with stress, they may subconsciously avoid the environment making them feel this way.

Set aside time with your employee to see how you can help them. Frame it as an informal chat, and ask:

  • Are they comfortable in their role?
  • Are you both ‘singing from the same hymn sheet?’

If they’re reluctant to speak with you, encourage them to talk to a GP, a friend, or counsellor. Give your employee time off to allow them to recover. You may also find stress risk assessments useful in order to protect your employees.

Decreased performance (in a team or individual) is a dead giveaway

Of course, employees aren’t drones and it’s natural that people can have off-days from time to time. Significant decreases in performance, however, can often mean an employee has lost motivation and commitment.

Has an employee or team lost focus on the task or project? Invite them into your office for a friendly and supportive chat to see what’s wrong. As this is a sensitive topic where employees can feel defensive, it’s better to listen and let them speak for this meeting, so they can explain what’s wrong and you can then pose solutions.

Does your employee withdrawn, sensitive, or more aggressive than usual?

Someone with a ‘can do!’ attitude has become reluctant and quiet?  Persistent changes in personality are a strong indicator that someone is feeling the pressure. They may be overworked so discuss the issue with them to see how you can get them back on their feet.

Other ways to combat stress amongst employees can include creating a pleasant working environment. Bright, airy spaces with indoor plants and inviting pictures are always a plus!

Worried about your workplace wellbeing?

Take the pressure off and let EMMA take on some of the admin, freeing you up to love your business again.

Let us lighten the load, we have more advice about building workplace morale on the blog, or speak to us and see how an EMMA representative can help today.