Recently, the CIPD reported that the annual cost of sickness absence has climbed to almost £29 billion for UK organisations, according to new figures from PwC. Additionally, British workers take more than four times as many sick days off work than some of their global counterparts.
There are many reports about stress in the workplace playing a role in absenteeism, retention and employee burnout. But some additional research has highlighted that “surface acting” and an employee’s tendency to swing between emotions can also contribute to psychological and physical stress and fatigue. “Surface acting” is where you are showing emotions that you don’t really feel (often a requirement in customer service jobs, for instance).
Research conducted by Daniel Beal and his team measured the levels of fatigue as participants forced themselves to show emotions they weren’t really feeling, and of those who were able to shift more easily from one emotional state to another (eg anger and joy).
The more they performed, the higher the levels of fatigue and stress. Interestingly, those that could swap easily between emotions, even though more prone to stress, could cope with the stress better.
So, how could this be prevented or reduced in the workplace? One way is through self-awareness and helping managers to manage their emotions and those within their team. Understanding individual motivational needs is essential, as are developing leadership skills such as effective listening, providing valuable feedback and building a culture of trust.
By managing emotions and by understanding the needs of others, at least some workplace stress could be reduced, and with relative ease.