It is normal for us all to feel under pressure at some point during our working week. However, GFI Software- the international IT company- has found that a staggering 90% of employees have considered changing jobs due to work related stress.
Prolonged periods of stress cause many health concerns, including: persistent adrenaline production, reducing the efficiency of the immune system; increased risk of heart attacks and strokes; inability to sleep properly; and longer-term anxiety. Due to stress, it is known that 13.3 million working days per year are lost in the UK.
Professor Sir Cary Cooper identified some ways that managers can reduce stress on employees, as discussed below:
One such way is to give employees more control and autonomy. A large number of studies support there being a strong relationship between the amount of control and the stress felt by the employee: the more control, the more stress experienced. Micromanaging a situation can make the other person lose confidence in their own ability. Cooper explains, “If you have the control you need to get out of a bad situation. That will make you feel good”. By delegating, you are trusting your employees, decreasing their stress levels whilst decreasing your workload and the stress felt by yourself also.
Another way to reduce stress is one that is well documented: ensure there is a positive work-life balance. It is important that employees are given enough time to switch off from work and spend time with their families. For example, Sweden has recently introduced six hour working days, believing that employees are significantly more focused, more efficient and are happier and healthier outside of work.
For those employees that have had to take time off of work due to stress, research suggests that return-to-work interviews have a positive effect on integrating the employee back into working life. These interviews will help to bring any concerns to the surface, helping to alleviate any potential anxieties from returning.
Workplace stress is more common now than ever. By taking just these three things into account, employee stress can be reduced, leading to a happier, healthier workplace.