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Tight deadlines, demanding customers, difficult boss? For many reasons it’s safe to say we’ve all encountered stress in the workplace at some stage or another. However, not all workplace stress safety is bad as some people actually work better and in a more focused way when put under pressure. However, it is important to recognise stress signs and symptoms and more importantly how to deal with it before it has a negative effect on your health and your business.

According to an Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) report in 2018 stress among employees in Ireland doubled from 8 per cent in 2010 to 17 per cent in 2015. Workers in Ireland were more likely to report the pressures of emotional demands and exposure to bullying, harassment and other forms of mistreatment but less likely to report time pressure than their Western European counterparts. Chances are this upward trend looks set to continue.

A survey undertaken by the Mental Health Foundation found that one third of respondents feel unhappy or very unhappy about the time they devote to work. When working long hours more than a quarter of employees feel depressed (27%). One third feel anxious (34%), and more than half feel irritable (58%). The survey also showed that nearly two thirds of employees have experienced a negative effect on their personal life, including lack of personal development, physical and mental health problems, and poor relationships and poor home life.

The most common source of workplace stress safety in the workplace is the demands of the job itself. If an employee feels that they don’t have control over the workload, stress levels increase. Other issues like interpersonal relationships and support received from co-workers and superiors can have a major part to play.

Prolonged exposure to stress affects the individual both physically and mentally. The following conditions can be symptomatic of stress. Recognising the signs of stress will help employers to take steps to stop, lower and manage workplace stress safety in their workplace.

  • Fatigue
  • Muscular tension.
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Sleeping difficulties, such as insomnia.
  • Gastrointestinal upsets, such as diarrhoea or constipation.
  • Dermatological disorders.
Workplace Stress Safety

How workplace stress safety impacts business

It is important that employers address stress in the workplace as, left unchecked, it has a direct result on the bottom line for the following reasons.

  • Absence due to sick days, long-term work-related illness or occupational injury, with this becoming part of the culture.
  • Productivity and revenue loss
  • Decreased motivation or strained relations between employees
  • Decreased morale
  • Exhaustion and burn out, leading to long-term sick leave
  • High Staff turn-over
  • Potential for legal action against a business for failing to protect the physical or mental health of an employee while at work

Sources of workplace stress safety

In 2017 the UK Government commissioned a report to review the role that employers can play in dealing with mental health issues and stress in the workplace. The report found six key areas which if not properly managed, can be associated with poor health, lower productivity and increased accident and sickness absence rates. They are as follows:

  • Demands – this includes issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment
  • Control – how much say the person has in the way they do their work
  • Support – this includes the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues
  • Relationships – this includes promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour
  • Role – whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles
  • Change – how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation.

How an Employer can help

Employers have a duty of care to their employees and this extends to their mental health. Addressing the causes of work-related stress can help prevent the problem happening or be less impactful and it’s clear from above that communication is key. Also, the company culture may need to addressed if this is contributing to stress levels. Some suggested proactive activities an employer can undertake are as follows:

  • Facilitate an open forum for staff to air their concerns.
  • If you think that an employee is having problems, encourage them to talk to someone, whether it’s their line manager, trade union representative, or GP.
  • Ensure that staff take their allocated holidays each year, so they get a physical and mental break from their job. A holiday means a holiday.
  • Ensure that staffing levels are adequate for the nature of work and that workloads are not too much for individuals to cope with.
  • It may be a good idea to offer stress management or wellbeing courses to staff to ensure that they have the knowledge and tools to look after their own mental health.
  • Encourage physical activity.
  • Offer Benefits. Sometimes it’s not all about salary. Offering remote working or an exercise classes during the working day or at lunch time can encourage staff.
  • Staff need to feel appreciated and valued so a simple “thank-you” goes a long way.

If you would like further information or advice in managing workplace stress safety, you can give us a call or email.

We have also provided links to further information below:

https://www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/Occupational_Health/Work_Related_Stress_A_Guide_for_Employers.pdf

https://www.esri.ie/news/level-of-job-stress-in-ireland-doubles-in-five-years