Tim shares his top tips on how to reduce stress in the workplace.
By Tim Frear
“Mental ill health costs UK employers an estimated £34.9 billion each year – the equivalent of £1,300 for every employee in the UK workforce. Broken down, that’s £10.6 billion in sickness absence, £21.2 billion in reduced productivity, and £3.1 billion in replacing staff who leave their jobs for mental health-related reasons”.(mhfaengland.org)
Many organisations are now making changes to combat work-related stress, training employees to become mental health first aiders, and identifying the signs of harmful stress in the workplace. However, there are always two sides to combatting stress, here’s my advice for employees about what they can do to help themselves through their work lives.
As an employee, we all expect certain levels of stress and pressure at work, studies prove we work better and more efficiently with a healthy level of stress. However, one person’s healthy dose of pressure can be another person’s nightmare! If you feel you’re exceeding the healthy levels of stress, try to talk to your line manager or peers and ask for help. It might be that a colleague has capacity to take over a few of your projects. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to your manager, you could talk to a friend or a mental health first aider.
This first part is possibly the hardest bit for an employee, but should be the most effective. Think about who you talk to and when you talk to them, ideally you want the full attention of the person you’re speaking to. Depending on your organisation, you might decide to ask for a private chat or a 121, or maybe a coffee and a chat on the sofas!
Think about your workload and organise yourself and your work in a structured way. This can be as simple as creating a to-do list or setting reminders in your calendar. Don’t get worried if your list is as long as your arm, having it written down will give you a full view of your workload and allow you to prioritise your time and resources whilst using other people’s skills if you need to.
Organise your emails! Many of us rely on our emails for our working lives but do you really need to be cc’d into everything?! Review your emails and make sure what you are getting and requesting is what you need to do your job. Use the filters to direct unwanted e-mails to separate folders or Junk. This should cut down the amount of time you spend on reading and organising your inbox.
What works for one person might not work for someone else. Think about what you can do to create an effective work life balance for you. There are simple things that can help your mind switch off. Maybe you could leave the office at lunch and walk around the block or to the shop. The move away from your desk and getting some fresh air should help you de-stress and clear your mind. If you get the bus home, get off a stop earlier to give yourself some down time before you get home.
Avoid taking work home with you. We’re lucky in the UK that we don’t always have the ‘Blackberry culture’ the US have. Try to switch off from work when you’re at home and avoid ‘planning’ to do work tasks in your personal time.
It’s important for an organisation to create an open culture, where talking about mental health is acceptable and respected. This will make it easier for you to ask for help if you need it and be more proactive and comfortable with creating a healthy work life balance.
As an employee, work is important and creating and maintaining a healthy work environment is crucial for your own success. Try not to be afraid of what people think and reach out to ask for support and assistance when you need it.
If you’d like any help or advice on how to reduce stress in the workplace, just get in touch!
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