Stress at work is normal but needs to be identified, minimised and managed. Read on for tips to keep you and your employees healthy and well.
Stress can feel inevitable for a small business, where daily challenges need to be dealt with ASAP and each task feels vital for success.
Some stress can be motivating and even helpful — a last-minute deadline might spark a more creative approach. But stress can also be harmful to the health and wellbeing of you and your employees.
The leading causes of stress in the workplace are:
People don’t shut off all their thoughts and feelings about non work-related events and issues when they walk through the door.
Stress in the workplace will often crop up from a situation where the demands of the job are not matched by the resources available to get the job done. Resources that may be lacking can be:
Signs of work stress to look out for include:
Positive communication based on respect builds trust and collaboration and is a vital part of creating a healthy and safe work environment. Small businesses and teams want to support and protect each other, so may find it hard to ask for help when they need it. Make it OK to talk about stress and what’s happening in the workplace.
Positive communication at work (external link) — Mental Health Foundation
Workplaces can offer a safe space for their people, especially if events outside of work are taking their toll. Talk to staff about how you can support them best. Be open to making changes in duties, flexible hours, opportunities for time out, or other kinds of support for them and their families.
Open Minds is a collection of resources from the Mental Health Foundation specifically designed to help managers build their confidence and skills when talking about mental health and workplace stress. They offer a series of videos, guides, tips, factsheets, posters and FAQs.
Open Minds: For employers (external link) — Mental Health Foundation
The Mental Health Foundation has created a framework called The Three Rs to help workplaces and individuals minimise and manage workplace stress. The Three Rs are:
Reducing the impact of stress: The Three Rs [PDF 197KB] (external link) — Mental Health Foundation
Minimising and managing workplace stress (external link) — Mental Health Foundation
If you are a manager or business owner, it’s important to understand the impact of stress not only on you, but also the trickle-down effect it has on your team and your customers. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of trying to figure it all out on your own, but it’s important to remember that seeking support when you need it is OK.
If you are struggling, talk to someone you trust – this can be someone at work, friends and family, or someone in your community. You can also get advice from a GP, or other health professional.
Working well: Getting help and advice factsheet [PDF 157KB] (external link) — Mental Health Foundation
If the current ways of working are causing a lot of stress to you and your staff, look for ways to change.
If workloads are high, maybe it’s time to take on a new employee or look for additional support from outside your business. Assess if you and your staff are focusing on the right priorities or if there are better ways of getting the work done that might relieve a bit of pressure.
It might be time to put systems in place or change the ones that are no longer working. Extra training might help empower your staff to feel knowledgeable and confident about the work they do.
Creating a health and wellbeing policy for your workplace is a great way to build a positive work environment. As an employer, it helps to demonstrate your commitment to the health and wellbeing of your employees and make sure everyone is on the same page.