More than one in four (28%) HR directors admit that they have no formal process in place to deal with stress and anxiety for employees, according to a recent survey by OfficeTeam.

The study surveyed 200 HR directors across the UK, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location. Formal policies for employee stress could include processes for reporting anxiety, training programmes to teach resilience, or access to professional counsellors as part of private medical health schemes.

200 UK HR directors were asked, What policies have you implemented to help employees deal with stress and anxiety?’ Their responses were as follows:

* Stress management training for all employees: 33%.
* Access to counselling services through private medical insurance: 32%.
* Individual programmes as needed: 31%.
* No formal policy: 28%.
* Formal policy for senior management only: 7%.
* Don’t know: 3%.

Employees in the private sector appear to be most at risk of being overlooked, with one in three (33%) HR directors revealing that they are without a formal stress and anxiety policy. However, this figure falls to 28% for publicly listed companies, and 20% for the public sector.

Phil Booth, Director, OfficeTeam, said:

“Companies are increasingly asking staff to do more with less, often at the expense of work-life balance which may result in higher stress levels. It is therefore surprising to see such a high percentage of companies – particularly in the private sector – without any procedures to help employees who are struggling at work. In addition to implementing formal programmes, employers should look at ways to help manage workloads, whether it’s setting more realistic expectations or bringing in temporary employees to help manage critical initiatives or relieve back-logged departments.”

The research also reveals that on average, more than one in ten (11%) employees fail to take their full annual leave allowance, according to HR directors. Workers in Scotland and Northern England are the worst offenders, with an average 14% of staff not taking their full allotted leave, followed by 10.5% in the Midlands, 10% in London and 9.3% in Southern England.

Phil Booth continues:

“Regardless how busy one gets at work, employees should never sacrifice their annual leave as it keeps one motivated and healthy in the workplace. While employers may be focused on workloads and looming deadlines, ensuring that employees get the required rest will help teams remain productive whilst also preventing excessive staff turnover.”

OfficeTeam offers the following six tips to help manage stress in the workplace:

* Recognise warning signs: The easiest way to address stress is to stop it before it occurs. If you feel yourself increasingly losing interest in work, becoming withdrawn socially or lethargic, stop and try to take some time out. By spending time away from your desk you are in a better position to collect your thoughts and address the issue with a clear mind.
* Manage your time: By maintaining a balanced schedule and trying to not over commit, you will keep your stress levels under control. If needed, try and delegate work to others.
* Take care of yourself: Exercise is the best way to keep fit and happy. Also, try to make good food choices, avoid excessive caffeine, get enough sleep and most importantly, take regular annual leave so you can recharge your batteries.
* Build relationships: Talking with co-workers or your manager can help create a harmonious work environment. Maybe find a mentor with whom you can discuss challenges when they arise and advise you on how to address them. It’s also best to try and avoid others who appear overly stressed.
* Let go: You need to realise that there are things beyond your control such as the economy, your commute to work or co-workers in the office. Instead, try to focus on areas that you can control and make sure that these are managed appropriately.
* Deal with personal issues: Learn to address and resolve any personal issues while at home. Bringing these to work will only cause you more stress and create problems there as well.