How to beat stress at work

Workplace and wellbeing

2 November 2016

Never mind the flu – one of the biggest health risks to your business this winter is likely to be stress.

According to the Willis Towers Watson Staying@Work report, two-thirds of business owners have already identified stress as one of their company's leading health risks.

The run up to Christmas can be especially frantic, so implementing some of these stress-busting tips over the next few months could help everyone keep calm and carry on.

Look for signs of stress

It's important to know your team well, so you can act quickly if you start to notice signs of stress. Common indicators include a loss of motivation, forgetfulness, bad timekeeping and working longer hours with no increase in quality of work. If this is out of character, do not to chide individuals for being bad employees, but to try and understand what's causing them to behave differently.

You'll find more symptoms to look out for in AXA’s guide to identifying stress in the workplace.

Create an anti-stress strategy

As well as affecting employee performance, stress is the main cause of long-term absence, so having a strategy in place can help your staff get through a tough time while keeping your business running too.

Your stress policy doesn't need to be hundreds of pages long – it could be a simple documentto help your managers identify the signs of stress as well as addressing issues within the organisational culture.

Encourage employee bonds

Studies show that workplace friendships combat stress. Allowing your staff to have a 15-minute chat around the kettle can help them to blow off some steam. After-work socialising is also a great way to forge bonds, but if your staff aren't organising their own trips to the pub you can step in by putting on events such as staff lunches, nights out or Secret Santas.

Be more flexible

Tight turnarounds are always stressful, so consider giving your staff plenty of notice before handing them important assignments. If it can't be avoided, offer to move other deadlines to help them fit everything into their schedule. Flexible working hours can be very helpful to working parents. Let them know that as long as the job's done, you're happy to give them a bit of leeway and let them work from home on occasion.

Decorate the office

Adding a breakout space gives staff a place to decompress when things are getting on top of them. It doesn't have to be fancy – a couple of beanbags will do. The area could even be slightly hidden from the rest of the room (you can do this with a free standing unit) to make it feel private. Staff can feel less stressed when they're able to personalise their workspace, so let everyone know that you're happy for them to add a bit of Christmas flair this winter.

For more advice on fighting stress, read our guide to managing stress in the workplace and our tips on reducing stress.