Home Business Insights & Advice How work-related stress is wrecking the health of every employee

How work-related stress is wrecking the health of every employee

by Sarah Dunsby
5th Jul 24 2:57 pm

There’s a very important link between business success and mental health, yet so many employers will instead foster a toxic work culture and focus too much on long hours and little breaks in the name of productivity but the thing is, all of these don’t lead to more productivity. Actually, they don’t even lead to innovation.

All this leads to is stress, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. It’s not right; it’s the furthest thing; employees are humans too, yet oftentimes, it’s as if they’re not even being treated as such.

It’s so important to understand that employers are often the root of the cause when it comes to their employees having stress; oftentimes, day to day stress is due to work. So, as an employer, what can you do to help your employees? What can you do to prove that you’re trying to make their world a better place? Well, here’s what you need to know.

Why employees are quitting

So, it was somewhat mentioned above, but it’s best to dive a bit more into this. Now, onto a pressing issue, many employers are facing: employees quitting their jobs. Companies want to succeed; they want more productivity, but the thing is, it’s not exactly that straightforward. You can’t expect to overwork people; they feel burnt out, and then you still expect them to continue. It just doesn’t work that way.

So, why are they leaving? Well, a lot of it boils down to stress and a lack of support. The modern workforce is more aware than ever of the importance of mental health. They’re no longer willing to sacrifice their well-being for a paycheck. If they feel overwhelmed and unsupported, they’re likely to look elsewhere.

Employees, especially nowadays, are willing to quit their jobs if it means they will have a better quality of life at the end of the tunnel. People would rather struggle financially than work for an awful employer. Hiring and firing is costly, and finding the right people is costly. All of this is going to cost your business. How can you earn a profit if you constantly need to spend money on recruitment and training?

What are the signs of a stressful workplace?

So, what exactly would be the tell-tale signs that your work culture and overall company is wreaking havoc on your employers?

The stress spiral

First off, let’s get on the same page about what work-related stress actually is. It’s not just the occasional bad day or a tough week. We’re talking about a prolonged, persistent feeling of pressure or anxiety related to your job. It could stem from workload, unrealistic expectations, job insecurity, or even workplace relationships. Over time, this kind of stress can spiral out of control and start to affect more than just your mood.

Your body on stress

Ever notice how your shoulders tense up when you’re worried about work? Or how do you get that queasy feeling in your stomach before a big presentation? That’s your body’s fight-or-flight response kicking in. In small doses, this can be helpful – it keeps you alert and ready to tackle challenges. But when stress becomes chronic, your body stays in a constant state of high alert. This can lead to a host of physical problems.

High levels of stress hormones like cortisol can increase your blood pressure, mess with your sleep, and weaken your immune system. It’s like your body is running a marathon that never ends, which is exhausting and unsustainable. Over time, this can contribute to serious health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and even certain cancers.

So, if you’re a business owner and you’re dealing with this, just think about how your actual employees might be feeling.

Mental health matters

The impact of work-related stress isn’t just physical. It can also take a hefty toll on your mental health. Just think about it for a moment there’s constant stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and burnout. You might find yourself feeling constantly on edge, losing interest in things you used to enjoy, or even struggling to get out of bed in the morning. It’s important to remember that these feelings are valid and that you’re not alone.

The tricky part is that stress and mental health issues can create a vicious cycle. Stress makes you feel bad, which affects your performance at work, which creates more stress. It’s a downward spiral that can be tough to break out of.

The workplace environment

Now, let’s talk about the role of the workplace environment. A toxic work culture can amplify stress. Micromanaging bosses (are you one?), lack of support, unrealistic deadlines, and poor communication can all contribute to a stressful environment. When you’re constantly worrying about getting everything right and not feeling supported, it’s no wonder your stress levels shoot through the roof.

Creating a healthy work environment isn’t just about free snacks and office parties. It’s about fostering a culture of support, respect, and realistic expectations. Companies that invest in employee well-being tend to have happier, healthier, and more productive staff. So, if you’re a manager reading this, take note.

What’s the best way to reduce workplace stress?

So, what would be the best way to improve the chances of lowering workplace stress? Is there anything efficient that employers can do?

There needs to be a call for change

Ultimately, tackling work-related stress requires both individual and systemic changes. So, employers like yourself need to recognise the impact of stress on their employees and take active steps to reduce it. This could mean re-evaluating workloads, offering flexible working arrangements, or providing mental health support.

For employees, it’s about advocating for yourself and your needs. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Remember, it’s okay to take a mental health day if you need it. So, how do you get to the point you want to be?

Communication is key

First, communication is key. You’ll need to ensure your team feels heard and valued. Regular check-ins and open forums can help. Encourage a culture where feedback flows both ways, and your employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns and ideas. This not only helps tackle stress but also fosters innovation.

You’ll have to embrace flexibility

Flexibility is another magic ingredient. Here’s the thing, though: a lot of businesses just won’t budge. A great example is forcing staff to return to the office, and there are a lot of companies that don’t even need this; they’re just doing this for no true reason but control. So that’s why offering flexible working hours or remote work options can make a huge difference.

Trust your team to manage their time and get the job done. You’ll be surprised at how much productivity can increase when people are allowed to work in a way that suits their personal lives.

Try and help with small loads of stress

Sometimes, just letting them have the rest of the day off can do a lot of good, and sometimes, just taking up the last bits of their work can also do a lot of good. But that’s not all, either. You should also keep in mind that even providing lunch, stress balls, or even hiring a massage therapist for a bit can massively help your employees out, too. Sometimes, it’s just those small loads of stress that get relieved that can massively help!

Encourage physical activity

You can only encourage it, but sometimes, just some encourage is more than enough. So, with that all said, physical activity is a fantastic way to reduce stress and improve mental health. So, it’s best to try and nudge your team to stay active by providing gym memberships, organizing group fitness classes, or even just promoting walking meetings. As you might already know, physical exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters, and helps to keep stress levels in check.

Foster social connections

Creating opportunities for social interaction at work can significantly reduce stress and improve mental health. Plan team-building activities social events, or simply encourage a culture where colleagues feel comfortable chatting and connecting with each other. Strong social bonds can provide emotional support and make the workplace a more enjoyable place to be.

Promote a healthy work environment

Yes, by all means, it’s not just about calling for change, but it’s full-on actually promoting a healthy work environment! So, it’s essential to look into creating a healthy work environment. This means more than just a clean office. Think about introducing plants, natural light, and comfortable furniture. Encourage regular breaks and perhaps even provide spaces where employees can relax or meditate. A little downtime can boost creativity and reduce stress significantly.

Provide mental health support

Let’s not forget about mental health support. This is a biggie! Offer access to counselling services or mental health days. You have to let your team know it’s okay to take a day off to recharge mentally, just as they would for a physical illness. Seriosuly, just providing resources and workshops on stress management can also be incredibly beneficial.

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