Stress. We all experience it at some point. Some more than others, and some more acutely than others. For many people, a certain amount of stress is important in order for them to remain focused and determined to achieve. For others, even small amounts of stress can have a negative impact on their productivity – stress can lead to panic and unstructured working. Mistakes are made so simple tasks take longer to complete. And then, for some, prolonged stress can ultimately cause illness, which often puts an end to anything being achieved at all.
Whilst individuals have a major role to play in ensuring that they don’t overdo it and let stress get the better of them, it’s not always possible for people to step back sufficiently from stressful situations in order to take stock, become aware of their escalating stress levels, and make the necessary changes. By definition, people who are stressed at work are those who feel they are struggling to manage, for whatever reason. Perhaps they have important work deadlines to meet, or they want to impress a new boss, or fear for their job security so don’t want to admit defeat. These people are the least likely to step back from their work voluntarily, appraise the situation, and take the necessary action (i.e. slowing down and admitting that they can’t manage everything). Staff who are dealing with difficult issues outside of work often have less resilience to cope with problems and challenges at work.
So, it’s down to managers and employers to step in, where necessary. But many managers and employers question how they can support employees to help them keep on top of their own health and wellbeing whilst they’re busy grappling with the issues that are often most important to them, such as productivity, profitability and remaining competitive. But the fact is that if staff are feeling stressed and pressured, they probably aren’t working to the best of their ability, so it’s of no benefit to organisations for staff to be pushed to their limits, and beyond. Customer service and productivity may well drop, and mistakes and discontent may increase – and this certainly isn’t what organisations should be aspiring to.
Good communication within the workplace is essential to ensure managers recognise and are quick to put measures in place for those who are struggling.
For more information on managing/coping with the ever-increasing problem of stress in the workplace, take a look at the blogs and guides on the Fit for Work website or call the free advice line on 0800 032 6235.