29 Jan 2019
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Develop a stress management policy
Make sure you have clear, robust policies which outline your company’s commitment to assisting with these issues. The aim of the policies should be to set out the actions that your company will take and who will maintain responsibility for this.
Understand the causes
Workplace stress, anxiety and depression can have a number of causes, including unrealistic workloads, working overly long hours, poor communication from management, job uncertainty and isolation from colleagues. Personal issues may also be having an effect on an individual’s wellbeing, such as relationship issues, a recent illness or bereavement or a major life change.
Identify the signs
Although symptoms will differ from person to person you need to be vigilant for the common signs. These include:
- Becoming withdrawn or isolated
- Work standards decreasing
- Frequent sickness absences
- Poor time keeping
- Becoming short-tempered or irritable
- Suffering from persistent headaches, nausea, tiredness or palpitations
Meet with the employee
Take care not to assume what is affecting the employee until you have had a chance to speak to them. All conversations you have should be approached in a calm, supportive and positive manner and the meeting should take place in a quiet and private surrounding.
Consider additional workplace support
Work with the employee to explore areas in their daily working life that are causing their condition, or making it worse. In many cases, small alterations to working arrangements, such as changing working hours or making additional allowances for time off for appointments, can help to ease pressures affecting the employee.
Provide additional support through an Employee Assistance Programme
Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) can offer additional support to your employees. They operate by offering confidential assistance and advice through various mediums, including the phone, online and face-to-face.
Know how to manage related absences
Employees in this situation may take time off work to either address their wellbeing or deal with the situation that is causing the stress. You should arrange to speak to them regularly to get updates on their situation, avoid placing any pressure on them to return to work, consider whether a phased return would assist them and be prepared to examine adjustments to their working environment.
Know how to properly support the employee on their return to work
On their first day back, you should hold a return to work meeting to reaffirm the ongoing support they will receive. You should also provide them with an update of any key company developments they may have missed and make sure they are aware that they can come to you if they experience any ongoing issues.
Make sure employees are aware of the support available to them
It is no use having procedures and policies in place to assist employees in these situations if they are not aware of the help they can receive. Encourage them to be familiar with all policies, to provide constructive feedback on existing processes and attend any courses you offer such as a stress management course.
Promote a positive work/life balance
It may appear beneficial if an employee is regularly working longer hours, or taking on increased workloads, but the opposite is true. This can be one of the primary causes of stress and anxiety and you should take steps to ensure employees are getting the appropriate holidays and rest breaks they are entitled to. You can also consider additional support that you can offer workers, such as allowing for flexible hours and home working.
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