Under pressure: how to tackle workplace stress

Last month, the Institute of Directors (IoD) reported that more than half of UK business leaders have admitted feeling mentally affected by workplace pressure.

67% cited work-life balance as the biggest factor. This was closely followed by heavy workload (54%), issues with staff (44%) and a high level of responsibility (38%).

The report follows last year’s findings by the Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA) that almost three quarters of employers are concerned about the impact of high-pressure working environments on their employees’ wellbeing.

With too much pressure at work, employees are more likely to have accidents or be absent from work, and less likely to be engaged or productive. The resulting impact on organisational brand, recruitment and profitability can be dire.

With these compelling professional and personal motivations to address it, it’s no wonder 6 in 10 boards are saying that mental wellbeing of staff is their top concern.

The good news is that through relieving pressure on employees, business leaders can go a long way to relieving the burden on themselves.

If tackling workplace pressure is a priority for you, these three tips will help you take the next steps:

1. Start with management

Edwin Morgan, interim director general of the IoD says that for senior directors “life often revolves around work, and when a problem arises on the job, it can feel all-encompassing.”

Making sure you and your line managers are in a position to prioritise their own wellbeing is essential if you want to see the ripple effect on staff.

By offering appropriate training and enabling managers to engage with other business leaders, you can go a long way to mitigating the impact of stress.

2. Talk to your employees

The best way to find out how to address employee stress is to ask them what would relieve pressure on them at work.

You might offer an enviable perks package but if you’re not meeting employees’ basic needs its perceived value will be limited. Subsidised leisure club memberships, lunchtime fitness classes or other sociable activities are all well and good, but don’t underestimate the impact of more flexible or remote working practices. We agree with Lorna Davidson of RedWigWam, who says flexible working should be viewed as a workplace necessity rather than a perk.

We always recommend that any flexible working practices should be offered inclusively. Be careful to balance any arrangements with realistic expectations though; flexible working should not  inadvertently cause more pressure. You might like to consider offering time off in lieu and reviewing your communication processes.

By asking employees for their input, you may find there are some simple and more cost-effective adjustments you can make to your current processes.

3. Address workplace skills gaps

Another common reason for employee dissatisfaction is a lack of confidence in or knowledge of how to do their jobs. This can make certain tasks more time-consuming and stressful. Sometimes the gap can be filled by providing training or other development opportunities such as job shadowing. In other cases, you may need to consider recruiting someone with the right skillset to take on certain jobs, particularly if it’s more technical expertise you’re after.

Given the growing challenge of finding the right staff for certain roles, it’s worth considering working with a recruitment partner who can help you reach a wider pool of candidates if you want to increase your chance of finding someone with the right skillset. The more specialised the role, the more likely it is you’ll need to tap into the ‘passive’ audience. Read more on what we have to say about prioritising passive candidates here.   

With over 30 years’ recruitment experience behind us, we’ve been able to help many organisations across south Wales attract a more diverse and qualified range of candidates.

If you’re ready to take the next step in relieving pressure on both you and your staff, please contact us today.