A recent survey has revealed that the UK is lagging behind other developed countries when it comes to employee wellbeing.
The latest Cigna 360° Well-Being Survey polled 15,000 people in 23 countries, and found that eight out of ten people are experiencing stress. One in five say it is unmanageable.
The UK ranked fifth worst for unmanageable stress, behind only the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Australia and South Korea.
In addition, the UK is behind other Western markets in regards to developing workplace wellbeing programmes. Only 9% of employees say their workplace has a wellbeing programme that they use compared with 22% of employees globally.
However, employers are now more mindful of wellbeing than ever before. HR Review found from their Employee Wellbeing Research 2018 that half of organisations now have a wellbeing strategy in place, up from less than a third in 2016.
Here are our tips for supporting employee wellbeing and reducing stress in the workplace:
Spot the signs
Managers play an important role in tackling workplace stress and other mental health issues. Being aware of the signs to look out for is the first step. These can include changes in an employee’s usual behaviour, a deterioration in their standard of work, increase in sickness absence levels, and appearing withdrawn or more tired than usual.
A manager cannot force an employee to talk about any problems they may be having. However, they can create an environment where these discussions can take place. Sensitive conversations should be held in private, with managers being non-judgemental and allowing the employee to speak without assuming they know what’s wrong.
As with a physical disability, managers should act to make any reasonable adjustments that would allow the employee to continue being able to do their job. Common adjustments may include changes to their schedule, responsibilities, or the working environment.
Monitor the situation
A manager should regularly check on how an employee experiencing stress is feeling and whether any adjustments are still needed or working as required. This could be through planned one-to-one meetings or through informal chats.
If an employee needs to be absent from work to recover from stress, their manager should agree contact to see how they’re getting on. The employee should not be pressured to return prematurely, and it should be agreed on what they’d like colleagues to know in order to maintain privacy.
Once they feel ready to return to work, conduct a return-to-work interview to discuss their absence. Update them on what’s being happening and address any concerns they may have. Consider a phased return if necessary, and make any reasonable adjustments they require.