Figures realised by the HSE states 25.7 million working days were lost due to work-related ill health. This year, stress-related ill health overtook musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s).
Stress is something that we all suffer from time to time. Whilst some elements of stress can help motivate people and give a sense of ambition, excessive stress can lead to anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
The National Stress Awareness Day is an annual awareness campaign that takes place on the first Wednesday of every November. The aim is to highlight mental health problems that can develop due to excessive stress. More-so as it is the UK’s biggest work related illness.
Work Related Stress
Work-related stress accounted for 12.5 million working days lost alone. Public service industries such as education, human health and social care reported the highest absenteeism. Major causes were due to sudden changes at work (8%), harassment or workplace bullying (13%) and a lack of managerial support (14%). However, heavy workload with a tight deadline (40%) was the number one cause reported by the HSE.
The HSE also launched their “Go Home Healthy” campaign. This highlights the importance of organisations taking more responsibility to ensure the well-being of their employees. Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert states that “stress is now the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK”. There is also a link between stress and sufferers of work related MSD’s.
What Should Employers Do to Identify Stress?
Employers should conduct a ‘Stress Risk Assessment’ to help identify the different types of work related stress affected by each employee. This would also help improve employee welfare. Naturally, there are tangible benefits to organisations looking to reduce work-related stress:
- Staff will be happier and overall morale will improve
- Increased productivity and performance
- Reduce the number of absences or staff turnovers
Excessive stress can lead to mental health issues. Therefore, employers should have an ‘open door policy’. They should encourage staff to speak up and seek help as soon as possible.
How to Reduce Your Workload
Since excessive workload was the number one cause of work related stress, we have compiled some simple tips that would help your employees to tackle their workload:
- Organising work by planning ahead will help structure workload.
- Once organised, prioritise each task. It will help determine the tasks that require more time, therefore efficiently managing workload.
- Take occasional breaks. Get fresh air. This helps to regain focus.
- It’s important to focus on one particular task at a time and finishing that before starting another.
The tips mentioned above will help provide an overall structure to an employee’s workload. It’s very important to encourage staff to notify someone, if they find themselves struggling. Remind them that there’s no shame in asking for help.