Work related stress, anxiety or depression accounted for over half of all workplace absence in 2018, with 57.3% of absence, and the number one reason for long term absence – according to the HSE. An increase on the previous year and with employees claiming they feel “significantly more stressed at work than they did a few years ago, and uncertainty all around” the number is unlikely to drop significantly during 2019 and such absences are estimated to cost around £26 billion per year, according to CIPD.
A certain amount of stress is good – it’s a sign that our work is challenging and dynamic but at what point does stress create distress? When does stress become excessive and what impact does stress have on our performance in the long term?
According to the “Time to Change” initiative, the biggest barrier to managing stress and other mental health problems in the workplace is the reluctance of staff to talk about it or feel that they can even be honest with their manager … In fact, 67% of people with mental health problems do not tell their employer because they worry about the reaction, according to the public health campaign.
If employees don’t feel able to disclose issues, problems may only come to light later on, when more serious interventions are necessary. By creating a culture of openness around well- being, with awareness of mental health problems, employers can reduce stigma, make employees feel better supported, and encourage them to raise issues and concerns early before they develop into something more serious. Equally if managers don’t realise that they are causing or exacerbating the situation through their own behaviour, then morally and legally they may find they have an issue further on.
Managers make a massive difference to the climate at work, how people feel about their jobs and therefore how they perform. If managers do not understand and support mental wellness, not only will performance suffer but also the reputation of the business as an employer, especially if cited in a tribunal or coroner’s report!
A few questions to ask of yourself:-
Do your managers know how to take care of their own mental health, let alone their team members?
Are your managers doing all they can to alleviate the issue or could they indeed be adding to it?
Are they aware of the need to conduct risk assessments for mental as well as physical well-being?
Could they make reasonable adjustments to cater for someone’s mental as well as physical health?
Are they confident, skilled and capable of having difficult conversations around sensitive subjects and not adding to the stigma around mental health in the workplace?
Could they cause you and your business damage to your reputation with their attitude, lack of confidence or simply their discomfort of even talking about such issues?
Managers are said to be the single biggest impact on climate (how it feels to work here) – how sure are you that yours are top drawer?
We run a variety of practically focused programmes designed specifically to incorporate best practice and the various duty of care requirements and work with managers at all levels to help them not only look after their staff and the business, but also themselves. Drop me a line to find out more about how we can help you protect your reputation, employees and bottom line.