The possibility of work-related stress exists at all levels of an organisation’s hierarchy, occupations, and sectors. Even though stress can be beneficial to productivity and creativity, there is a fine line between healthy amounts of stress and toxic amounts that negatively impact one’s mental health.
When employers can recognise the signs of stress early, they can manage the situation or eliminate any unnecessary stress in the workplace. In reality, some stressors cannot be removed, so an investment in stress management is a must to ensure a healthy, happy, and engaged workforce.
Changes in behaviour don’t necessarily mean stress, but leadership teams need to be aware of and address any changes. Employers can spot signs of a troubled employee by watching their actions, behaviours, and interactions.
Certain behaviours may be typical for some individuals, while for others, they may be signs of stress. Symptoms will be different for every individual, but we can think about common symptoms and ask ourselves if we have spotted the following changes:
- Loss or increase in appetite
- Nervous behaviours like nail-biting, fidgeting or pacing
- Procrastinating or avoiding responsibilities
- More use of drugs, alcohol or cigarettes
Stress symptoms can vary significantly due to how individuals handle it, and signs of stress may appear vague or similar to those caused by medical conditions. Employers who create an environment where their employees feel empowered and safe to communicate honestly will benefit from higher productivity.
Apathetic and disengaged
staff will isolate themselves in the face of stress. In many scenarios, a person’s reaction is a way to feel in control of their situation or to deal with a stressful social situation, such as asking for help with mental health issues.
Their confidence may have been damaged as they realise they cannot manage their feelings on their own, and as a result, they avoid anything that could further aggravate their feelings. Employers and executives can co-create measurable and meaningful goals for their employees to show how their achievements contribute to the business’s success.
Frequently making mistakes
Stress, or burnout, can lead to inefficiency and a decline in productivity. It is more likely for employees who might have been highly engaged at one point to have errors in their work or fall short of deadlines because they did not receive mental health training.
Stress is a contributing factor in between 60 and 80 per cent of workplace accidents. Stress at work affects the health of employees and the safety of the workplace. Often, accidents occur in the workplace due to stress, which causes individuals to focus on a problem instead of being attentive to their surroundings.
How can employers put support in place for their workforce?
- Understanding what leads to stress
- Identifying signs and symptoms
- Practical tips and exercises for managing stress
- Peer support
High staff turnover in the workplace
Stressed employees tend to be unhappy with their working conditions. The lack of leaders with the training to provide mental health resources means they will feel unsupported by the company and look elsewhere for employment.
Nowadays, several company-review websites, such as GlassDoor or LinkedIn, give prospective employees an insight into a company’s culture and how it supports employee mental health.
Companies with employees who come and go frequently often have a stressed workforce which does not feel comfortable sharing its struggles with its leadership team.
Large or small, companies should have a wellbeing plan in place to support their employees. Managers should be trained to spot the signs of stress and signpost staff to organisations that can help.