Data from the government estimates that stress accounts for 35% of all work related ill health and for 43% of all working days lost to ill health.
Moreover, new research from Metlife finds that 69% of employees say that the behaviour of management has increased stress and 45% has said that stress caused by management has led to employees taking time off: translating into increasing business costs and an overall loss of productivity.
This new research further clarifies that good business leadership is about helping to manage employee stress levels.
Tom Gaynor, employee benefits director at MetLife UK says: “Some stress is good and of course most people need clear goals and challenges to perform at their best but when it is causing extended absences action needs to be taken. Managers should be ensuring stress is tackled before it becomes a problem, not contributing to it.”
Gaynor outlined three key ways leaders can help reduce work place stress:
- Tackle the root causes of stress before it becomes an issue. Practical steps managers can take include conducting a stress audit to find out how and why staff are stressed so you can determine the support they need. Make it part of a wider organisational health survey so employees are not worried by it.
- Communication helps - employees are more engaged when they understand their role and the company strategy. However, remember communication should be about listening as much as sharing so employees can talk about their concerns
- Make sure of your employee benefits. Employee Assistance Programmes are available through some Group Risk contracts and provide health and wellness support. Healthier staff are less stressed and more resilient. And you can offer resilience training programmes to tackle the root causes of stress and give employees techniques to cope with problems before they become an issue.
The behaviour of leaders is vital to managing the stress of employees and a strong focus on doing so creates a happier, more positive work environment before productivity declines.