10 March 2020
How to help stressed employees

Whether it stems from problems in or out of the workplace, spotting symptoms of stress is an important part of managing employees. With mental health at its peak, now is the time to spot the signs of stress in the workplace and to know how to deal with it as an employer.

Stress-related symptoms generally fall into three categories: emotional, mental and behavioural. Signs of stress include:

  • Physical symptoms – do they look tired and worn out?
  • Irritability – are they snappy and not communicating well or swearing?
  • Disputes and disagreements – are they grumpy with fellow colleagues?
  • Poor judgement – not able to provide a constructive answer or solution
  • Poor quality of work – has their work levels decreased or slackened?
  • Poor time management – are they arriving late or staying later to catch up?
  • Increased absenteeism – are they taking more time off?

It can be tough enough to manage your own stress. But how can you, as an employer, help the members of your team handle their feelings of stress, burnout, or disengagement? Here are some tips to apply:

  1.  ‘Open door’ policy – This will help to break down an all-important barrier and encourage employees to come to you for help.
  2. Train your managers – Make sure all individuals in management positions are aware of how they should handle employees who come to them with stress-related problems.
  3. Be approachable –  As an employer, it’s your responsibility to lead by example and give off a well-maintained, welcoming presence.
  4. Take an interest – Make a point of asking your employees how they are when you’re passing by.
  5. Confidential policy – Clearly communicate that any stressed employees who come forward can do so confidentially.
  6. Be flexible -If an employee comes to you with stress-related problems, try to make some allowances if you think they’ll benefit the individual.

Workplace stress is usually caused by a reaction to excess pressure, but other triggers can include bullying, feeling inadequate and a lack of control. Stress itself isn’t an illness, but it can lead to emotional and physical ill health. If you are concerned that an employee may be under stress, you should take the time to evaluate the individual’s daily habits. There are many signs that suggest a person is under stress, and although not all individuals display the same signs, you will be able to spot something out of the ordinary.

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