According to the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), in 2015/16 over 480,000 people in the UK reported that work-related stress was making them ill. This amounts to nearly 40% of all work-related illness.
With mental health now more recognised than ever, those figures are certain to now be even higher.
Employers have a legal duty of care to look after the health, safety and welfare of their employees. Whereas many physical illnesses can be unavoidable, employers can act to prevent stress and reduce that 40% figure.
As well as the well-documented health risks to people, stressors will have a wider effect on a business too.
Decline in productivity– If employees face unmanageable levels of stress, they could experience depression, anxiety, and lose focus on their job. As a result, employees can make more mistakes and their quality of work may be compromised.
High employee turnover rates– Stressed employees are likely to be unsatisfied with their job and their working environment. They may simply leave the organisation if they believe the company itself will not be able to help them in addressing their concerns.
Frequent absenteeism– As the statistics show, absenteeism is caused by employees who feel that they cannot cope and so stay off work.
Increased training and recruitment costs– Businesses experiencing high levels of employee turnover also have to spend more on acquiring new workers as replacements for resigned employees, leading to additional training and induction costs.
Legal costs– If an employee feels that their employer failed to provide a safe and healthy working environment, they may seek legal assistance and threaten tribunal action.
Employers should act to support employees with stress and other mental health issues. Training should ensure managers have the soft skills to carry out difficult conversations, and know where to signpost employees should they need further help.
This further help can take the form of an Employee Assistance Programme, or stress management courses like our half-day stress management course.
Our Coping with Stress eLearning course provides practical tools and techniques that can help people at work manage stress.
It shows how to identify the signs, what can be done about them, and how to then challenge the behaviour, thoughts and feelings that lead to stress.