How to combat stress in the workplace

Hannah Sims · 06 Nov

Working in a stressful job for a prolonged period of time can significantly increase the risk of illness, according to research by Preventative Medicine. Given that it's Mental Health Awareness Week – we set out to understand how workplaces can tackle stress.

What defines stress and why does it happen?

Stress is the way a body reacts to a challenge or problem and it can manifest itself in very different ways. It is not necessarily limited to a large workload or unhappy environment; although these are contributing factors. Time pressures, long hours, job security and long commutes are all factors that can cause stress amongst employees.

Research has found that these factors can impact an employee’s overall mental wellbeing and have an effect on energy, drive and productivity. An organisation’s culture and environment and are equally responsible so employee happiness is key.

What does research say?

Working in a stressful job for 15 years increases the risk of five forms of cancer

Working in a stressful job can put more than just an individual’s blood pressure at risk. An employee’s overall mental wellbeing will impact an organisation’s culture, environment and productivity in a drastic manner.

A recent study by Preventative Medicine reports that significant links were found to stomach, lung, colon, rectal and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. However, researchers from Quebec University measured the link of this and how prevalent it is in men.

High workload and time pressures are two factors of stress mentioned, yet these aren’t the only ones. Job insecurity, financial problems and dealing with customers are other factors listed by the participants. In addition to these, others include dangerous working conditions, interpersonal conflict, commute and employee supervision.

The most stressful jobs included:

  • Industrial engineer
  • Firefighter
  • Aerospace engineer
  • Mechanical foreman
  • Railway equipment worker

Firefighters

How can this lead to illness and what can be done?

Well, researchers believe that those working under high-stress levels may start smoking, overeating or consuming alcohol – all of which are known risk factors to lead to cancer. If you are worried about your mental health or feel overly stressed, here are five simple changes you can start making to improve your wellbeing. 

1. Build happy relationships:

Being more sociable with colleagues and managers can quickly relieve stress and help to initiate positive relationships. Improving communication across the workforce is a great listening tool

2. Eat healthily

Food choices can make or break how someone feels day-to-day. Ensuring sugar levels are managed is a good place to start. Avoid nicotine and have caffeine and alcohol in moderation.

3. Help to create a fun culture:

If employees see their managers or seniors acting in a calm and rational manner, they will automatically feel more at ease. Ensure management is consistent.

4. Prioritise

Ensure workload is organised and prioritised to allow employees time to manage better. Aim to have a balanced schedule and plan regular breaks.

5. Sleep better and exercise 

Ensure that employees are managing their time well enough to commit themselves to other activities and are not pressured by work. An employee who is getting enough sleep and activity is more likely to be engaged and productive.

yoga by the lake

Tackling the problem head-on 

Here at Perkbox, we think the lack of mental health support given to staff is a problem that needs tackling. That’s why we’ve launched our Employee Support Hub, offering 24/7 access to free, impartial and confidential advice, powered by our partners over at CiC. The hub will offer a range of services to tackle emotional and mental wellbeing, all in a way that works around the user and their needs.

Get the best support 

All of CIC’s staff are all qualified therapists and are trained to help deal with issues such as stress, depression, and anxiety, unlike many phoneline help services. Moreover, your conversations don’t have to necessarily be work-related. The conversations can be around any and all problems you might be having. This can be as specific as legal issues relating to employment law and family property, or even family issues such as parenting, divorce, separation and debt management.

If you want to find out more, or would like to book in a call, all you need to do is search for “Employee Support Hub” in your Perkbox homepage or app. Like any other service on the platform, simply click “get this perk” and you’ll instantly gain access.

 

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