It is not uncommon to feel stressed at work, and so how employers manage this can be vital to ensuring that their teams are being supported so they can produce their strongest output. CIPD’s Health and Wellbeing at Work report found that four-fifths (79%) of companies reported some stress-related absences over the last year (and this figure rises to 90% for larger organizations).
So, what can leaders be doing to ward off these stresses?
- Leadership Alignment – during periods of economic uncertainty, it’s particularly important that management are aligned on the top priorities for their organization. We already know that the ongoing cost of living crisis is causing stress for employees– an ACAS survey found that three out of five (63%) employees felt stressed because of the rising cost of living – so it’s key that people have confidence in the long-term financial stability of the companies they work for. Having a strong leadership team who are all on the same page sets a great precedent for the overall tone of the business.
- Senior Executive Support – it’s not always easy for senior leaders to find that perfect balance between demonstrating optimism for the future of the business and being authentic and transparent with employees. But being calm and clear can prevent staff stressing over assumptions and ‘what ifs’. This reliability and consistency of behavior in higher-ups builds trust with teams, and so it’s important that the messages don’t appear to swing between good and bad news on different days – acknowledging the challenges and connecting them to the company strategy is key. Executive coaching can be a great way of supporting senior leaders as they process their own thoughts and feelings and explore options and solutions.
- ‘Re-recruiting’ Employees – amid mass layoffs, it is very normal for those employees who keep their job to suffer from ‘survivors guilt’. Remaining employees may also have to flex to focus on objectives that aren’t part of their preferred or original area of work, and this can lead to lower levels of motivation. A great way to mitigate this is to have an employee engagement strategy in place. Through regular check-ins, managers can both keep teams and individuals aligned to the bigger purpose and values of the organization as well as help people see how they are adding value, and recognize achievements, in the immediate term. Running some ‘building resilience’ workshops alongside this can also help with the management of stress during an uncertain time.
- Encouraging Paid Time Off – PTO is a great way for employees to decompress, and if employers are encouraging this, it removes any potential awkwardness or guilt around asking. Especially in a hybrid and remote working world, where the boundaries of home and work can sometimes become blurry, it is necessary to reinforce the importance of taking personal time.
- Employee Assistance Programs – Having EAPs or mental wellness programs are also useful when dealing with an employee whose stress may require more targeted help from a specialist.
Adopting these practices in your organization can be extremely beneficial to help proactively deal with stress in the workplace. With the working world continuing to evolve and grow in response to the pandemic and to economic fluctuations, ensuring that you have strong protocols in place to help employees manage stress is vital for the health and wellbeing of your people and your company. If you would like to get in touch about creating and implementing organizational strategies to combat stress, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org