Stress in the workplace
Work stress – What can you do as an employer?
Workplace stress is becoming increasingly common. However, it's something many of us often try to keep quiet about, because we don't 'need' the help.
What you might not know is that your employer is legally required to help you if work stress has become an issue in your daily life.
An employer has a duty of care to their employees, ensuring a safe working environment. This includes minimizing the risk of stress and other stress-related illnesses. There are a lot of things that employers can do to try to manage stress in the workplace. One of the first things they might want to do is, conduct a stress audit to find the exact cause(s) of stress. This can be done on an anonymous basis in order to receive an unbiased answer.
What to look at?
It's also important to look at things like patterns of sickness and absence. These can be addressed in monthly 1-on-1 meetings. This is helpful because we know that employees don't always report stress as the reason for being out sick. Therefore, employers should have a stress policy, stating very clearly that concerns should be raised while being (too) stressed. So that, really, there is an open company culture relating to these kinds of issues.
Besides, managers should be trained to identify situations that cause stress. After stressful (deadline) periods, workers and employees should have a right to take time off and simply relax. If not, employees could come to the point where they're at a breakdown or being diagnosed with a serious depressive illness.
Who to go to?
It's important to speak out and to try to raise your concerns informally, at an early stage. First, you can speak to your line manager. If the line manager doesn't want to take action or is the cause of the problem, perhaps, speak to HR. If none is installed, talk to your union representative, or another employee representative. You can even seek advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau, or seek specialist legal advice from an employment lawyer.
There are other countries where, for example, an employee can call in sick and say they're having a Mental Health Day. Sometimes just taking some time off is going to be more beneficial to an employee and, therefore, to the employer. Morale and productivity will be boosted significantly.