Stress Awareness Day: 'Something all HR teams should take note of'

Today (6/11/2019) is Stress Awareness Day, with individuals in HR believing this is a great reminder of the importance of staff wellbeing and how to identify in keeping employees happy and healthy.

Diane Strohfus, chief human resources officer (CHRO), Betterworks, a company that provides HR software for continuous performance management believes this is a day that the HR team should be well aware of.

Ms Strohfus said:

It goes without saying that Stress Awareness Day is something all HR teams should take note of, as workplace stress is said to cost companies billions of pounds each year. Whether that’s encouraging people to take regular breaks from their desk, organising group stress-relieving activities, or simply helping employees better navigate their work, it’s vital businesses show their commitment to acknowledging employee stress and, most importantly, reducing it.

This being said, while the day itself is of course important, efforts around it are futile if employers don’t take wider steps to reduce employee stress long-term. For instance, managers should be looking at whether the way they communicate with their employees is causing them unnecessary stress.

Jen Scherler-Gormley, HR lead UKI at Cisco, a technology conglomerate part of an American multinational believes these days are great at peaking people’s awareness of stress.

Ms Scherler-Gormley said:

It’s crucial that this awareness continues to drive support all year round in order to help people’s mental wellbeing; for themselves and the support of others. What causes stress and how that is experienced is different for each person. Becoming more aware of where you are on the mental health continuum is fundamental in identifying when things are piling up and when you need support. We continually encourage people to be conscious of how they are doing inside and outside of work, with tools and support in place to meet the specific needs of each individual.

In order for people to do their best work and bring their whole selves to work, there has to be an understanding that today’s life is full of demands, which is unlikely to change.

Matt Weston, managing director of Robert Half UK, a recruitment firm explained by reducing stress and improving relationships at work, employees 2.7 times more likely to be happy in their jobs.

Mr Weston said:

National Stress Awareness Day comes as a timely reminder on the importance staff wellbeing for employers up and down the country. While stress is normal part of working life, excess stress can impact performance and productivity, relationships in the office and employee’s health.

Employers need to explore how they can alleviate unnecessary stress in the workplace. Company culture, working environment, and flexibility are all area that can improve employee wellbeing and improve happiness at work. According to our research employees who have good relationships at work are 2.7 time more likely to be happy in their jobs.

Simon Ashton, head of learning and development at Phoenix Leaders, a leadership and executive training consultancy thinks there are two ways in which HR can provide training to help alleviate stress.

Mr Ashton said:

Firstly, to help managers recognise and respond to employee stress. As a result, managers should be able to spot emotional and behavioural signs such as skin conditions, low frustration tolerance and voice-raising respectively. Managers should also be trained to have difficult conversations around mental health and stress.

Secondly, to help employees develop resilience to stress. By implementing this at an organisational, team and individual level, resilience training can help employees recognise their strengths and embrace challenges. This will also encourage employees to have a growth mindset, which can help turn threats into opportunities.

Lisa Dodman, chief people officer at Unit4, a company that is changing the way people engage with enterprise software feels the stigma should be removed from stress, so employees can talk about such issues at work.

Many employees are unwilling to talk about stress at work due to the stigma of weakness surrounding it. This mindset needs to change as it can affect individuals at all levels of an organisation.

Some of the most common causes of stress include long working hours, heavy workload, organisational change, tight deadlines and job insecurity. Technology platforms and tools can be used at work to relieve stress by removing mundane and time-consuming tasks, shifting employee focus towards meaningful work. Frequent contact with managers should be encouraged so employees can speak out at the earliest opportunity if they are feeling stressed and feel confident that their voice will be heard.





Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.