Mental health | Time for a Team-Based Approach to Overcoming Workplace Stress

Time for a Team-Based Approach to Overcoming Workplace Stress
Promoted by Time for a Team-Based Approach to Overcoming Workplace Stress

It says something about the size of the problem that, despite our best efforts, employee stress is having a massive impact on both employee well-being and organisations’ bottom lines.

The solution is not merely a matter of scale— more employee wellness initiatives aren’t going to close the gap.

Organisations need a new playbook designed for the unique challenges of the digital age.

During the past 30 years, the pace of change in the workplace has shifted from infrequent to constant. Employees routinely report change fatigue, unclear expectations, not knowing how to operate in this new environment, and an inability to disconnect from work. In addition to the tremendous human cost, business performance suffers as well, to the tune of £240 billion or more annually in the UK.

Conventional wisdom can only get us so far; and often fails to address most of the underlying causes of heightened job stress in the digital age.

  • Protecting time away from work is good for physical and mental health, but it can actually increase the aggregate level of stress because of disrupted work and increased pressure on either side of time away.

  • Wellness programmes increase employee fitness to manage stress and help address the consequences of stress, but they don’t reduce the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) forces that create stress in the first place. They also focus on individual well-being, which is important, but ignore team health, which we will see can actually lead to a reduction in the causes of stress.

  • Fun at work provides an escape from stress, but it is temporary relief. Further, many employees complain that “mandatory fun” ups their stress levels because they would prefer to use the time for addressing their responsibilities.

  • Planning activities do provide clarity around expectations, but continuous change at work for most means that clarity is quickly lost until the next annual planning cycle. Moreover, planning activities can create rigidity that makes it more difficult to adapt to changing circumstances.

We need to go further and make more fundamental changes if we are to overcome stress and build organisational resilience.

Through our research and employee surveys, we’ve identified three key leadership practices that empower organisations to build resilient workplaces, thereby reducing employee stress and increasing organisational performance.

  1. Adopt a Team-Centric Approach. Shift the locus of responsibility from HR/corporate centre and the manager to the team itself. Collectively, we can shift the pressures individual employees feel to underinvest in themselves and encourage more positive decisions.

  2. Dynamically Establish Clarity. Clarity doesn’t come from communicating faster; rather, it comes from communicating the right things at the right time.

  3. Leverage Stress. Managers can forge resilient teams that transform destructive stress into productive stress and improve the business. To do that, they need to pause and determine how to lead, identify root causes, and experiment with solutions.

Download our Point of View Paper

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