A study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) – which was carried out in 2011 – showed that stress is the number one cause of sickness absence in the UK. On top of this, it’s believed that there is a link between the style of management within an organisation and the amount of stress reported by employees.
So is stress epidemic? Well, it’s certainly on the rise. In fact, this report shows that this is the first time that it’s been “the most common cause of long term sickness absence for both manual and non manual employees” according to the CIPD.
When dealing with stress, it is important to understand what is actually meant when we use the word in this context. Small amounts of stress are healthy and help motivate us to beat deadlines and get things done. It’s too much stress that’s the problem, and this is where health problems can start to emerge – therefore, stress isn’t actually in itself an illness. But it can cause illness if it’s not dealt with – these include high blood pressure, anxiety, and even contribute to stroke or heart disease.
Dealing with stress within organisations
The most important thing is communication. By acknowledging the existence of stress your organisation will be able to start dealing with it, and hopefully begin to reduce sickness absence as a result. There are times when some employers ignore such issues in the hope that they will disappear – but as the CIPD report suggests, the reverse is true.
Build stress management into your organisations wellbeing strategy
If your business has a culture of long hours and generally offers low levels of support for staff, then the chances are if stress problems exist, they’re only likely to get better if action is taken. One way to put this into motion would be by carrying out an audit into staff wellbeing to ascertain how the staff are feeling and uncover any issues around staff and stress levels.
By being open about the issue and working to manage stress, it will then make it easier to introduce other ways of dealing with the issue. Training line managers in identifying common problems such as stress and depression is something that can be done – and there are charities such as Mind who provide training courses for a range of skills in this area.
Write up a policy for stress
This would be a clear set of actions on dealing with stress, forming part of your wider workplace wellbeing policy. Within this you can provide guidelines for line managers on dealing with the issue, and also help to develop a supportive management style across the organisation.
About the author: Jen Jones is a health enthusiast and keen blogger who writes for a range of sites and blogs on health topics including self employed health insurance, exercise, and stress management.