Guest Post by Sue Firth
In the countdown to national Stress Awareness Day, we realise how prolific an issue stress is – being regularly quoted in the media and the Government taking the initiative in terms of responding to figures for absenteeism and ill health in the workplace.
One in four people now suffer from a mental health difficulty citing stress, anxiety and depression as particular symptoms. These statistics are somewhat daunting for most businesses – triggering an often misplaced view that they are either to blame or are responsible for fixing stress.
Here are some tips on how companies can best support their employees – bearing in mind that ultimate responsibility lies with the individual to act on them.
1. Start by helping individuals understand stress better by making a wealth of simple materials available; books for them to borrow from within the business; mp3 downloads for them to listen to, and questionnaires to fill out about symptoms of stress. Make these readily accessible by loading them on to your own website or an internal site or intranet for employees. Your people need to understand what they can do for themselves and this is possible at very little cost.
2. Help your Managers know the signs and symptoms to look for. You might consider investing in half day workshops – however giving them the tools to make a constructive approach is a proactive thing to do. Leaving people who may be experiencing stress and treating it ‘like the elephant in the room’ has a knock on effect for the individual – the team who has to carry them – and the bottom line of your business as you may have to cope with their being off sick long term. It is quite well proven that supporting Managers to act quickly and with confidence where an unhappy, distressed or anxious person is concerned, pays off in the long run
3. Make sure you have a policy on stress. Sit down with your Managers and discuss what should be the actions your business is prepared to take should an individual feel unreasonably stressed at work. A sample policy that has done much of the work for you is available from www.suefirthltd.com and could be a useful guide. It describes how stress is normal but unreasonable demands aren’t, and will help you to know your legal obligations are along with ideas about how to help an individual.
Recommended Media: my own book on Stress, a Stress questionnaire to determine normal vs worrisome symptoms and the download mp3 CD on stress are all available from www.suefirthltd.com.
As a business strategist with decades of expertise in helping owner managers and family businesses to achieve a work/life balance, contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or go to @richardwhatif on Twitter, Richard Bosworth on LinkedIn or www.whatifforums.com.