Work stress in 2020 - this time it's personal

t seems that wherever you look online, ground-breaking studies are revealing statistics left, right and centre on workplace stress.

Take Perkbox for example, their recent survey uncovered a staggering 79% of British adults in employment have experienced work-related stress this year. While Oracle & Workplace Intelligence share that 7 out of 10 people have confirmed Covid-19 has made this the most stressful year of their working lives.

And with the world feeling uncertain again as the UK heads into another lockdown, it’s likely that stress will remain the biggest workforce issue for the foreseeable future…

Tell me something I don’t know?!

It comes as no surprise that 2020 has been the most stressful year in history for the global workforce. Although feeling stressed at work is by no means a new phenomenon, this time triggers have changed from performance pressures to those more personal.

According to the CDC, some of the most common reasons for our employees feeling stressed at work during the pandemic include:

· Uncertainty about the future of your workplace and/or employment

· Taking care of personal and family needs while remote working

· Concerns about the risk of being exposed to the virus at work

· Adapting to a different workspace and/or workload

· Learning new communication tools and dealing with technical difficulties

Of course, individual stress reactions vary greatly from person to person but what’s paramount right now is recognising employee stress in the world of remote working and knowing how to alleviate it.

Are your people hiding behind the screen?

By that we don’t mean are your colleagues hiding that they’re actually wearing their pyjama bottoms during your Zoom call! We’re talking about them being able to use remote working arrangements to mask their struggles, with many scared to admit how they’re really feeling in case it jeopardises their job.

Looking out for signs of stress in employees is hard enough when we are in physical presence with one another, so how on earth can you recognise if your staff are suffering in the virtual world?! A few questions to initially ask yourself are:

· Is productivity on the decline?

· Are sick days becoming a thing?

· Are you receiving colleague emails at daft o’clock? (Alarming research shows that 35% of the global workforce are now working more than 40 extra hours every month! - Oracle)

If you answered yes to any of the above, consider it a tell-tale sign.

The key to less stress

While managers are not expected to suddenly transform into mental health experts overnight, they do need to be on the ball when it comes to spotting stress symptoms, both now and post Covid-19.

Just as important is knowing the part they can play to ease some of the pressure.

We’ll be honest, organising a one-off virtual coffee morning to raise awareness just won’t cut it. It’s a step in the right direction, however a more hands-on approach needs to be taken. Here are three initial steps that we recommend taking:

1. In the short term, be the conversation starter. Simply take the time to talk to your team on a 1-2-1 basis to ask them how they really are. Letting them know you’re there to support them is a good first step.

2. Capture current stress levels – Use an employee wellbeing assessment to measure your employee’s current state of mind and the impact that Covid-19 is having on their mental health and performance at work.

3. Undergo and encourage practical training – carry out CPD accredited courses in stress and mental health awareness to help both you and your team to recognise the signs and prevent stress from the get-go with effective coping methods.

While there’s no silver bullet that can alleviate all stress in the workplace, having the awareness and right support can certainly make a difference. That’s where we come in, Key Wellbeing can help you put mental health at the top of your organisation’s agenda and to create meaningful, cultural change at a grassroots level. Find out more here