Today, the 4th of November is ‘Stress Awareness Day’ with the focus on ” employee wellbeing as a worth while investment in your business”. As I’m thinking of the content for this blog and wanting to fill the page with all the facts about stress and the financial impact it has on business, I stop myself to share my thoughts instead- the focus should be the individual.
HSE define work-related stress ‘as a harmful reaction that people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work.’ But what does it mean to the stressed individual- difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, withdrawn, palpations, headaches, pain just to mention a few. What degree of distress must the individual be experiencing to finally feel they have no option but to take sick leave? And could this have been prevented with the appropriate investment in employee wellbeing?
Being good at managing stress is not innate in all of us ( 1 in 5 employee feels stressed, CIPD 2015), we are human, some need to learn and master the skills of how to manage stress.
Since I launched Proactive Works in August I have had the pleasure of meeting with numerous HR professionals, they inform me of how they complete employee engagement questionnaires. Then i ask if they complete stress questionnaires and the answer is ‘no’ and why i ask …’ it will open a can of worms’. All I can infer from this is that companies are unaware of the gravity of stress in the workplace and are choosing to deal with stress in a ‘fire fighting’ reactive manner. From a monetary perspective -why is this still the case despite all the evidence showing how costly stress absence is- on average 23 days are lost per stress case.
What would it look like to take a proactive approach to stress- a workforce that are equipped with self resilience tools to manage stress at work, a happier therefore more productive and engaged workforce. Investing in employee wellbeing is without question a worth while investment as employees are a business most import asset. An investment in terms of reducing sickness absence and presenteeism costs but most importantly psychological investment in your employees.
Maybe today ‘ Stress Awareness Day’ is about ‘opening the can of worms’, stress unlike physical health problems are hidden. How can we tackle a problem if choose not to identify it.
I would love to hear your thoughts….