Recognising and Reducing Stress - Hannah Simmons
Citipost Mail’s Head of HR Hannah Simmons shares her thoughts on stress in the workplace as part of Stress Awareness Month in April 2022
April is Stress Awareness Month, at Citipost Mail we recognise the impact that stress can have on an individual as well as a workplace so we thought this was a good excuse to highlight some of the resources we have made available to help combat stress in the workplace.
Stress is a natural human reaction, it can sometimes boost us into action to meet deadlines and get things done, but it can become a problem if you begin to feel overwhelmed or that you can’t cope. Stress in the workplace can affect every aspect of an organisation, from interpersonal relationships to absentee rates and reduced efficiency.
“A Mental Health Foundation survey reported that 74% of UK adults said they had felt overwhelmed or unable to cope in the last year.”
Recognising stress is the first step to reducing stress. The only difficulty is that everyone experiences stress in different ways and therefore it can manifest in a number of behaviours. In individuals this could look like, to name a few;
- People who are usually chatty and extroverted becoming withdrawn
- People becoming more accident prone
- Extreme tiredness or apathy
- Ongoing complaints of feeling unwell
- Becoming more short-tempered
- A dramatic change in weight – this could be a loss or a gain
Of course, we all have off days but if this behaviour is observed for an extended period it might be time to intervene.
If you recognise these feelings in yourself or someone at work, a friend or family member you’re not alone. A recent UK-wide stress survey by the Mental Health Foundation concluded that 74% of adults have felt so stressed over the last year that they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
Looking at a company as a whole, the signs that your workforce could be collectively suffering from stress could include things like:
- A high staff turnover
- Increased absenteeism rates and sickness
- Increased errors or failure to meet agreed deadlines
- A long-hours work culture
- Employees not taking their full holiday entitlement
- Low productivity and efficiency
If you’re reading this and you’re not convinced, consider that new research by Deloitte and the mental health charity MIND shows that poor mental health in 2020-21 cost UK employers up to £56 billion a year – a rise of 25% since 2019. Lost productivity alone accounts for between £26bn and £29bn and a staggering 70 million working days are lost to mental health problems every year in the UK alone.
HOW CITIPOST MAIL COMBATS STRESS IN THE WORKPLACE
With the numerous detrimental effects of stress in mind, we can look at what we can do as an employer to create a healthy workplace that can combat stress.
At Citipost Mail we are committed to a healthy ‘open-door’ workplace culture; we are proud of our flexible working approach and how we manage workloads effectively so that no one gets overwhelmed.
Every employee is provided adequate training and mentoring and is given a clear job description so they are aware of their responsibilities and KPIs. We also conduct quarterly job chats to ensure that everything is running smoothly and everyone is happy and receiving the support that they need. As a result of adopting these measures, we have minimal absenteeism rates and a happy team!
Additional things that we provide for our employees to help keep stress at bay include the availability to refer any employee to private counselling. We have a Citipost Mail workplace committee who meet once a month to discuss where improvements could be made to enable a better working environment. This committee also help to organise a fun activity or treat for the office to take place at least once a month. Previously this has included things like corporate massage days and Easter eggs. These activities act as a bit of fun and something to look forward to, as well as creating opportunities for people to integrate with other departments whom they might not otherwise interact with, promoting a solid wider team.
As a reflection of Stress Awareness Month, we are encouraging our staff to reflect on how they respond to stress by asking themselves: How can I tell I am getting stressed? What are my triggers? And what works for me to reduce my stress levels? By identifying these things, it will help them to manage their stress levels better in the future and know when they need to ask for help. We believe that the close-knit team we have nourished provides plenty of touch points for our team to seek help and guidance, as well as providing plenty of tools to help too.
The efforts to combat stress in the workplace will be on-going and we will always be striving to do more – our current plans for the near future include building an outdoor space for people to enjoy on breaks and lunch time – spending time outdoors and around nature is a proven stress relief so we hope that this will be a welcome addition to our office. Our workplace committee will also be continuing to plan monthly fun activities to boost employee engagement and keep everyone motivated.
Hannah Simmons – Head of HR