Managing workplace stress during the 'cost-of-living crisis'

Matthew Neville

As part of Bdaily’s coverage of World Mental Health Day (October 10), correspondent Matthew Neville spoke with the team at BusinessExpert, a London based financial services specialist with a focus on supporting SMEs.

The BusinessExpert team were keen to share their insight on workplace stress, its primary causes and how businesses can best equip themselves to deal with it during this period of economic uncertainty. Read on to find out more…

With the UK now in its first recession since 2007, businesses are facing unparalleled pressures. Declining profits, layoffs, cuts in capital spending and tougher access to credit will create challenging workplace conditions both for directors and their employees by proxy.

So how does a recession affect employees and the conditions in which they work? And, most importantly, how can employers meet the obligations of their business while maintaining a compassionate workplace that looks after its staff during “tough times”?

Creating a Stress Aware Workplace

It is often said that a company is nothing more than its employees. So, what does that mean when the workforce is stressed themselves? The same workers fighting fires during office hours will go home to energy bills that have risen by 96 per cent, and inflationary costs that are at a 30 year high.

For some individuals, this will manifest itself as “serious anxiety and depression”, according to Business Expert. But when a workplace has the right policies in place it can spot these early via prevention, early intervention, and stress policies.

Good employee training is “essential” here, as well as a conscious decision to try and not pass on the national economic pressures to a workforce already doing their best. Staff will never reach their optimum productivity when panicked and pressured to succeed.

BusinessExpert suggests that employers must maintain a “calm, focussed office environment”, and encourage line managers to gauge how employees are doing.

The signs of work related stress to look out for are said to be inconsistent performance, errors, memory lapses or simply irritability and moodiness which may result in interpersonal conflict with other team members.

Lessons from the Economic Crisis

Multiple studies demonstrate that the economic crisis of 2008 had profound impacts on employee mental health. Factors such as increased workload, and layoffs resulted in an “increased rate of mood disorders, anxiety, depression, dysthymia, and suicide.” With this in mind, employers should be prepared and ready to take action.

Access to occupational health, employee assistance programmes, flexible working, stress management, and health promoting activities such as gym memberships are all ways in which businesses can actively promote the wellbeing of their staff. But it all begins with simple awareness.

BusinessExpert’s head of PR, Theo Cristofari, concluded: “Does your business have a strategy in place for tackling employee stress? If not, now is the time to consider implementing just that.

“With some simple education, plus a few policies that promote stress awareness in the workplace you’ll have a work culture that is happier, healthier, and more resilient.”

Business Expert’s mental health hub includes a range of articles which can help employers act around employee wellbeing.

Explore these topics:
#Health #Economy #Finance #National #Premium #Insight #Wellbeing

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