Four ways you can help your employees to manage stress better

It’s been a trick 18 months for business owners and employees, and it’s not surprising that levels of anxiety are rising. Here are four ways you can help your employees manage their stress.

Stress doesn’t clock off at 5pm. Instead, it can carry over into our evenings and weekends, impacting how we feel and how we approach different tasks. And with the pandemic still proving challenging, it’s clear that current anxiety levels aren’t reducing.

This has led to a heightened focus on workplace wellbeing for businesses who are driving the need to understand how to support employee’s mental, physical and financial wellbeing in such challenging circumstances.

From anxiety about returning to the office and commuting to work again, to financial insecurities following a pay cut or time spent furloughed, all of these worries can add to employees’ stresses as we enter another busy period of the year. And stress is known to contribute to many medical conditions, like IBS.

Employers have a key role to play in supporting staff. From small steps such as encouraging open channels of communication, watching for employee burnout, ensuring support services are available 24/7 and reviewing current employee benefits policies to ensure they meet new needs and training mental health first aiders, businesses should ensure they are doing all they can to support staff both professionally and personally. 

International Stress Awareness Week provides businesses with an opportunity to initiate a wider conversation with staff about their current stresses and what they more businesses can do to support and alleviate issues within the workplace.

Four ways you can help your employees manage stress

So what can you do to help your employees to manage their stress? Here are four tips from Amy Tomlinson, Head of HR at MetLife UK.

1) Watch out for and reduce employee burnout

Being aware of changes to an employee’s productivity is vital, managers need to be vigilant when monitoring how individuals interact or show signs of disengagement. People can hide behind a computer and go unseen very easily. While the typical ‘calling in sick’ stats may reduce, the reality can be very different as people are affectively hidden.

Helping your employees to proactively manage workloads and encourage a healthy balance is key to reducing burnout. For example, helping them to plan their annual leave so they can plan around it and ensuring employees aren’t sending emails consistently out of hours and taking on too much. 

2) Encourage communication

While some employees will be open about the struggles they are facing, some may feel hesitant to admit any issues for fear of being judged. Creating an environment where employees feel they can share their troubles can help their performance – and even make them feel more loyal to their employer.

MetLife’s Re:Me research found that six in ten (61%) workers say their boss is more aware of their personal circumstances than ever before, so its important managers lean into this and understand individual concerns and possible impacts to help best mitigate them.

3) Be aware of returning to office anxieties

Having concerns about returning to the office is to be expected, something that a year ago would have just been another day now feels like a big milestone for workers. Working from home has been the new normal for over 18 months now, so it’s not surprising that it’ll be difficult adjusting.

Being mindful that these challenges exist for workers and supporting them with their return will go a long way to ensuring the transition back to the workplace is as smooth as possible. Helping them to visit the office before most return can be helpful or holding mindfulness sessions to help individuals relax more.

It can also help to adopt a team-led approach to returning to the office. Here’s some advice on how to implement this.

4) Remember financial wellbeing

One of the ways employers can help to alleviate some concern is by highlighting the financial support available to employees and promoting tools that give practical information on managing daily budgets and savings.

Many will have experienced a financial change as a result of the pandemic within their household, or it may have highlighted their lack of savings. Initiating dialogue around financial wellbeing can help employees to keep on track of their personal finances and feel empowered rather than anxious when it comes to money. Particularly given that so many worrying about their financials leads to poor mental wellbeing.

Photo by Andrey Zvyagintsev