In the last decade there has been a huge disruption in business caused by the recession. The need for organisations to reduce costs, focus on their core business and reorganise themselves so they can take advantage of the improving economy led to change, disruption and stress for employees.
The recent EU referendum and the resulting majority for the Leave vote are once again causing disruption for UK organisations and stress for many employees.
Workplace stress is a significant contributor to workplace illness, and we know that absence has a massive impact on businesses such as decreased productivity and reduced profits.
“Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that 131 million days were lost to sickness absence in the UK in 2013. Research by the CBI found that absenteeism costs the UK economy around £14 billion a year, with sick days alone costing UK organisations £29 billion a year.”
As well as employee absence high stress levels can lead to physical and mental health problems including alcohol abuse, obesity and insomnia.
MetLife Employee Benefits research showed that 47% of UK employees said that their jobs were stressful and numbers are continuing to rise. Stress in the workplace is not just caused by worrying about job security, long hours or your personal financial position; it can also be caused poor workplace relationships and conflict between individuals.
Resilience training for employees
Many employers do take workplace stress seriously, and as a result have implemented initiatives such as line management awareness training, Employee Assistant Programmes (EAPs), and flexible or remote working policies.
One initiative leading organisations are now implementing is resilience training.
“the ability that an organisation has to adapt quickly to disruptions while maintaining continuous business operations and safeguarding people, assets and overall brand equity’.”
Resilience training is about coaching your employees to help themselves by focusing on positive, rather than negative, aspects of their role, providing the support they need and creating a working environment that emphasises collaboration. The training helps employees visualise stressful situations so that they can come up with solutions to overcome them.
These coached techniques help employees deal with the root causes of stress in the workplace, reframe how they expect other people to act and help employees manage stress, negative thoughts and emotional reactions.
What else can employers do?
In addition to resilience training, there are several ways you can help your employees and your organisation deal with stress:
- Establish the current situation by conducting an employee stress audit. This will help you determine what support is needed, what level of assistance your employees need and any gaps in the provision.
- Ensure that your managers know the symptoms caused by stress and look out for them so that issues can be identified early and support given.
- Create a culture where senior leaders and managers are supportive of employees, and teach managers how to manage people properly.
- Use your employee benefits programme to offer support. Benefits such as Employee Assistance programmes, gym memberships, and money saving benefits can make a big difference to employees.
- Communicate with employees regularly and openly. In times of change it is crucial to employees up-to-date with the latest developments and direction of the business.
- Listen to your employees. Invite feedback from them and ask them about their concerns and then address those concerns that are raised by your employees.
- Offer flexible and remote working policies to all your employees. Flexible working policies help employees create a better work-life balance, which can contribute to reducing stress levels.
- Organise team-bonding events. Whether it’s a free buffet lunch, after work drinks or a day out, team bonding events create a more supportive and collaborative working culture.