Employee stress should be a top concern for any business, especially as many of its causes are highly preventable.
Mental health is one of the biggest issues facing not just companies but the whole of society today and workplace stress can be a leading factor in maintaining a healthy state of mind.
According to Mind's Workplace Wellbeing Index 2016/17 report, almost one-third of employees have suffered from some form of workplace mental health issue during their career. It's therefore a more common issue than many might realize.
Understanding the many factors at play in creating stress for individuals can be a powerful tool in helping organizations to better support their staff. Here we examine ten of the most common causes of workplace stress for employees:
1. High workload
Unrealistic deadlines, more work than can feasibly be undertaken and individuals feeling rushed and pressured to complete their tasks in as little time as possible can all be highly stressful situations.
2. Lack of control
Organizations that fail to empower staff with control over their own workload can be setting up their workers to be more stressed. With a lack of control comes greater anxiety and this can manifest in workplace stress if not managed carefully.
3. Poor management
The relationship that an employee has with their direct boss is important in minimizing stress and maximizing performance. If a person feels they are being undermined, micro-managed or mis-managed in some way, this can have a significant detrimental impact on their mental health.
4. Bullying or harassment
Workplace bullying or harassment are grave issues that every organization should actively seek to stamp out. It is simply unacceptable for bullying or other forms of mental abuse to take place. As a result, leaders should make clear their stance on this issue and take seriously any complaints of this nature, with harsh consequences if upheld.
5. Unrealistic expectations
Knowing what is expected of you is important for any worker, but when those expectations exceed what a person is able to deliver this can lead to a great deal of stress. Being understanding about the management of workload and ensuring individuals have the right skills to succeed is therefore essential.
6. Blame culture
Organizations where a culture of blaming others is the norm is not conducive to a state of positive mental health. When companies allow or encourage staff to shirk their own responsibilities on to their colleagues, this creates a cutthroat atmosphere and means all staff become increasingly on edge.
7. Significant change to role/business
Change can be stressful in itself and when it is outside of the control of the individual, there can be significant consequences to mental health. Appreciating that people need time to process change and to be informed as early as possible of impending alterations that will affect them are positive steps to limiting stress.
8. Lack of support
Individuals who lack support from those around them can often feel like they have the world on their shoulders. Promoting an inclusive and collaborative atmosphere, where colleagues support one another, is therefore important.
9. Poor working environment
It's not just company culture and the working atmosphere that can impact mental health, but also the physical environment in which people are expected to do their job. When conditions are cold, cramped or simply unfit, this too can have a massive impact on a person's mental wellbeing.
10. Concerns about pay/security/progression
Understanding that issues of remuneration, security and career progression are important to the majority of workers means businesses should be more open and honest about these matters when engaging with individuals in order to reduce levels of stress.
Support your staff to get the best out of them
Organizations with a focus on improving the work-life balance for their staff and helping to promote strong mental health are those that will be best positioned to attract and retain the top performers in their field.
Developing a positive approach to mental health in the workplace can provide a far-reaching boost in many aspects of business, from better and stronger employee relationships, fewer days lost to absence and improved productivity, through to an enhanced reputation as an employer.
Safeguarding employee mental health and actively supporting staff when they do face problems should therefore be a priority for every organization.
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