The economic downturn has been a significant factor in increasing stress levels in the workplace.  A recent survey has found that 41% of employees are currently feeling stressed or very stressed in their jobs.  Importantly, 20% think that if they mentioned stress they would be first to be made redundant and 48% are scared to take any time off sick.

It seems that stress is thought of as a “taboo” subject and most would not expect any support from their boss if they mentioned being stressed.  However, although pressure and stress may well be part of working life, it will cost companies millions of pounds through increased employee absence and poor performance, if they don’t realise that everyone has a limit.

Many people are reluctant to seek help for their stress, or can turn to food and drink as a response.  The key to preventing such results is for effective stress management and, where possible, to prevent it occurring in the first place.

Ensuring employees take proper breaks and are encouraged to talk about work pressures are practical and easy to implement measures.   Importantly, effective leadership skills would benefit managers by providing clear guidance on how to understand what employees need when stressed, stress triggers, why people react the way they do and to identify and develop skills to discuss issues which can lead to stressful situations.

I can’t imagine any company being stress-free, but it is possible for managers to spot the signs, provide a trusting environment for discussion and help their employees reduce their stress levels and the damaging consequences.

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