Managing stress at work

by Gavin Hooker

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Work-related stress is an increasing area of concern.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated work-related stress as many of us have had to suddenly shift to new ways of working as well as balancing family responsibilities with home-working and home schooling, etc. This has put a lot of pressure on people and has tested the resilience of many of us. Stress can have a very negative effect on physical and mental health, to the extent that it can affect behaviour and people’s performance.

This can have a knock-on effect on relationships with colleagues. Work-related stress is a major cause of long-term absence from work, so knowing how to manage work-related stress is key for businesses.

Ideally, employers should approach stress management proactively, focusing on prevention and early intervention.

Managers should lead by example and promote healthy working habits. This may include taking regular breaks, encouraging employees to take all of their annual leave and avoiding sending emails outside of working hours as much as possible. If managers take an interest in their own well-being, others will follow suit.

Keep an eye on workloads and discuss this with your team regularly. Ensure that work is being shared equally and try to identify any people who may be overworked. If someone is showing signs of stress, try to delegate some of their workload elsewhere, or extend a couple of deadlines, to take the pressure off.

Invest time in building relationships with your team. If you know your team better, you will be more attuned to their stress levels. Keep up positive communication, celebrate successes and encourage your people to switch off after work or at weekends.

Regular team meetings and one-to-one meetings are key, particularly if your people are working from home. Positive interactions with colleagues can help give people a boost if they are feeling under pressure. Encourage feedback and let your people know that it is ok to ask for help if they have too much on their plate.

The content in this blog is correct as at 31 January 2022.

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