There’s no need to get stressed about stress - Stress Awareness Month

April 2018 is stress awareness month. HR Consultant Joanna Adams shares 4 ways to alleviate stress at work.


1. Absenteeism v Presenteeism

Presenting for work when the pressures are mounting may not be the answer for an employee who is struggling with the effects of workplace stress.  A tactical amount of time off to take stock could improve your employee’s perspective and resilience before their health slides to anxiety, depression or even worse.  Employers should recognise that mounting pressure and presenteeism can in fact cause health problems and indeed longer absences.


2. Good communications

Make sure you schedule a return to work interview on your employee's return to work.  Treated correctly this could be a good two-way discussion on the true reasons for the ill-health, and if due to stress -  an opportunity to find ways of alleviating that pressure. 

Managers faced with staff stress should consult their HR advisors for support in handling the situation.

Recognising and evaluating the wellbeing of staff can be done formally and informally – anonymous staff surveys and a genuine open-door policy – both methods are invaluable to receive the feedback required to make positive changes where stress is a factor at work.   


3. Adjustments

Can reasonable adjustments be made to alleviate the pressure that is triggering stress in the workplace?  If stress is impacting an employee and it stems from work practices, culture or relationships then management have a duty to alleviate these pressures. 

If such adjustments are not forthcoming your employee may consider a flexible working request. All staff (with at least 26 weeks' service) have the right to present a flexible working request regardless of reason.  It’s for the management to genuinely consider the request and if it can’t be accommodated full reasons must be provided.


4. Preventative measures

Employers should consider offering training on work-life balance and the avoidance of stress.  Employee assistance programme (EAPs), telephone helplines or advice clinics that staff can access for assistance when experiencing stress at work are becoming increasingly popular – both taking the strain from management and offering an invaluable resource for staff.

Good leadership and a supportive culture are also key factors in increasing wellbeing at work.