Director of Corporate
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Mental health is gaining and retaining focus as a key element of health and wellbeing activity. Workplace wellbeing research from the CIPD and Simplyhealth shows that 70% of UK organisations design their wellbeing activity to promote mental health, to a large or moderate extent; this is up from 63% in 2018.
And there’s good reason for this. Stress-related absence has increased over the last year in nearly two-fifths of organisations. Mental ill health and stress are also cited as increasingly prevalent causes of both short-term and long-term sickness absence.
A range of causes contribute to the prevalence of workplace stress, but two factors consistently come out on top. Heavy workloads are by far the most common cause identified by almost two-thirds of respondents in our research. And nearly half of organisations blame management style for stress in their workplaces.
Stress can have serious effects on health. Mentally, it can contribute towards symptoms of anxiety and depression, and physically can cause headaches, nausea and indigestion. Not to mention how stress can have lasting effects on sleep and memory
Businesses can help reduce stress-related absence and encourage a preventative approach. Creating a culture where employees feel they can seek support is key. The good news is more and more organisations are taking steps to identify and tackle stress; around three-quarters in fact. Those organisations that have wellbeing on senior leaders’ agendas or a standalone wellbeing strategy, are more likely to be taking steps. Among the most common methods are flexible working and providing access to an EAP.
Interestingly, training for line managers is another important method for managing stress. They play a crucial role in wellbeing. In the case of workplace stress, it’s important for line managers to be able to spot the signs that someone’s struggling, address what might be causing stress, and signpost that person to further help and support.
Despite all the great work we see employers doing to tackle workplace stress, less than half believe that their efforts are effective. While there may be room for improvement, we also shouldn’t underestimate the importance of encouraging everyone in an organisation to take care of their own wellbeing. In turn fostering a supportive and healthy culture where workplace stress can be better managed.