21st Century work is stressful. Here are some warning signs and how business owners can help.
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Workplace stress is an ongoing issue in today’s labour market, especially with the onslaught of technology enabling people to work from anywhere at any time. Nowadays, it is extremely difficult for employees to switch off and step away from their ever-increasing workload and this is a problem that needs to be addressed by organisations across the UK.
When not managed properly, excessive and prolonged stress can quickly lead to burnout; a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. As a business owner, there are some preventable measures that you can take to protect your workforce and below I’ve outlined the top five signs to look out for.
They’re working overtime
It’s a sad truth that a lot of organisations in the UK frown-upon employees that do not put in the extra hours, creating a notion that putting in overtime will get them ahead in their careers. This is certainly not a culture that should be promoted and it’s important to keep a close eye on your employees’ working patterns.
For example, if you notice that someone is getting in too early, staying late or worse still, sending emails at god knows what o’clock, it’s worth sitting down with them and having a chat about why they’re taking this approach. It might be that they need their workload to be reduced slightly, or they have some non-work-related factors influencing their working hours.
They’re not taking a break
Everyone is entitled to a break at work and it’s important that you encourage your employees to get up, stretch their legs and get some fresh air. Being cooped up in the office all day is not going to do anyone any favours, and it’s all too easy to stay glued to your desk, especially during busier periods.
Leading by example is the key here. If you’re constantly chained to your seat, it’s highly likely that your employees will be too. Keep an eye on your staff, especially around lunchtime and make sure they’re getting some breathing space away from the office environment.
They’re physically unwell
Highly-stressed individuals will likely be exhausted and could be suffering from headaches, stomach and chest pains, dizziness and so on. What’s more, when a person’s body is run down, their immune system will become weakened, making them far more vulnerable to colds, flu and other infections.
If you notice that someone is regularly unwell, it’s important to address this head-on. Keep a record of back-to-work forms and look for any patterns in their behaviour. Sickness should always be approached in the right way and you should encourage your employees to take time out to recuperate if needed.
Their work is deteriorating
It might be that you’ve noticed a high-performer isn’t achieving as much, or that silly mistakes are being made along the way. These are tell-tale signs that your employee could be heading for burnout, especially if the behaviour is out of character for that individual.
Try and have an honest conversation with them if you notice this happening and be sensitive about it. No one wants to be told that they’re not doing a good job so you have to approach the conversation in the right way.
They have no work/life balance
Any Monday-Friday, 9-5, working individual will live for the weekend, so if you’re hearing that your employees’ personal time during the evenings and weekends is being taken up by work – address this straight away!
It can be all too easy to not bat an eyelid at your team’s working patterns but this can lead to very serious repercussions. The best leaders and managers are the ones who truly care about the lives and wellbeing of their workforce and take proactive steps to protect them.
Lee Biggins is founder and managing director of CV-Library.