Stress Awareness: Proactive not reactive

9th April 2024 Posted in Blogs

April is Stress Awareness Month and the HSE is urging employers to follow five simple steps to prevent and reduce stress in their workplace.

It’s part of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Working Minds Campaign which encourages employers to Reach out and have conversations, Recognise the signs and causes of stress, Respond to any risks you’ve identified, Reflect on actions you’ve agreed and taken, and make it Routine.

According to 2023 figures work-related stress costs the UK economy £20bn a year and results in 23.3m sick days a year, despite this many employers are still reactive to stress in the workplace dealing with their issues as they arise rather than prioritising the role of stress in the workplace and as part of their health and safety responsibilities.

So where should employers start?

Regular Risk Assessments

Have you really assessed what causes stress in the workplace? it’s not just people or lots of work that contribute to stress. You should regularly assess the workplace for potential health and safety hazards that could contribute to stress. This includes evaluating ergonomic design, lighting, noise levels, and air quality. Implement measures such as ergonomic furniture, noise-reducing headphones, and proper ventilation systems to create a safe and comfortable working environment.

Provide adequate and relevant training

This one may sound simple, but whilst you may have educated your teams on how to lift properly or the best way to sit at their desk you also need to provide training in mental health awareness. Equip leaders with training on stress management, mental health awareness, and effective communication skills. Offer training in areas such as mindfulness, time management and work-life balance.

Make the culture connection

Don’t just talk the talk, ensure you are creating a culture which actively invests in the areas you are spending the time to train your leaders on. There is little point having an impressive list of completed training courses if the culture you are creating is still one which is stressful for those who work within it.

Seek Additional Support

You may not have the time or resources within your internal teams to adequately manage stress and mental health awareness across your organisation. Considering investing in additional or external support to assist in your pro-active approach to stress awareness in the workplace.

Build a proactive approach

Stress can often be hidden and everyone can be guilty of just getting on with the job in hand and not considering what is happening around them, it’s commonplace for employers to react to stress in the workplace when it arises but by putting simple steps in place it’s possible to identify signs of stress much earlier. Create regular touchpoints with your teams to speak about workload and the balance between work and personal life and make it clear that stress is not something which is just part of work but rather something to be spoken about honestly and something which you as an employer care about.

Need support with managing stress and mental health in the workplace? we can help!

Our new service ThinkSmart works with you to create safe and supportive workplace environment and providing the expertise to recognise the signs and symptoms of common workplace mental health issues and effectively guiding employers and individuals towards the right mental health support.

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