Stress management in the workplace
- and emotional intelligence in business
All of the issues mentioned in Part 1 of this article come under the 'duty of care'. You'll have people in your family or circle of friends who can be described by the above - whether or not you're personally aware of that.
You'll probably recognise the issues from your (previous) workplace. You may recognise the descriptions of (previous) colleagues. You may even suffer - or have suffered - yourself.
Sooner or later, we all fit at least one of the descriptions in Part 1: Managing Stress in the Workplace. It's called dealing with life! Stress management in the workplace will always play a part of your daily routine in one shape or another.
Time, interest and empathy may can prevent sickness absence
Manage staff mental and emotional well-being
10 Tips to help you manage stress in the workplace
- Take the time to just listen (See Relationship Communication for advanced listening skills). Yep ... I know - you may well be too busy. However, taking the time to listen will very likely save you a lot of time in the long-run with an unproductive employee. It may also stop them taking a lot of time 'off sick' further down the line.
- Be prepared to be flexible around a crisis. You'll be able to prevent people from taking long-term sick leave if you can give them some time off here and there to deal with a crisis. The 'crisis' is all too often related to marital problems, the ending of a relationship or problems with children.
- Be a good boss if there's been a death. If there is a death in the family - give compassionate leave. Be generous if it's a very close member of the family: give a few days here and there, not just one to attend the funeral. Consider giving your employee compassionate hours. They may be coping one minute and the next feel completely overwhelmed.
- Talk with the individual about what kind of help they've accessed. This is a good way of managing stress in the workplace, particularly for people who are frequently absent due to depression and/or anxiety. Have they had talking therapy? Have they been to their doctor? Are they talking to friends? Are they engaged in social activities?
- Expect good work if the problems aren't due to a crisis or death. Be understanding and supportive if you know your employee normally performs well and the events at home are time limited.
- Talk regularly with the person about what's going on and how you can help if the problems are likely to be long-term. Book the one-to-one's ahead and separate them from Personal Development Reviews. These extra sessions should be about support and what you can do to help him/her in the office/workplace. However - they are not counselling sessions and your staff member should be aware of the time limit at the start of your conversation.
- Plan ahead as much as possible, to prevent adding to any anxiety. The more settled and calm your member of staff is, the more productive he/she will be. As a result, you're likely to have fewer problems in the team. Clearly, your business may not be of a type where you can plan ahead. Be sure though, that you appoint staff who thrive on deadlines. Employees with a more anxious disposition perform much better in a stable environment with a set routine.
- Run team stress management training events. You can also address problems with individuals indirectly by organising team events, such as stress management workshops in the workplace. Everyone benefits, and individuals have responsibility for what they 'take away' from the session.
- Provide quality information on your intranet and consider including the HypnosisDownload search box. This will help your employees access fast, powerful and cost-effective help.
- Take good care of yourself! You too need to be able to 'survive', and you can make life easier for yourself. I so recommend downloading the Quiet Mind any time, any place hypnosis track.
What if someone isn't getting any better?
Generally, people are quite able to deal with their problems without it affecting their work too much. It's not necessary for you to worry if they choose not to talk to you about their personal problems. After all, they are entitled to their privacy.
However, if you're concerned about...
... the quality of their work
... their sickness absence
... their behaviour in the team or (most importantly)
... their personal safety...
... then you need to talk to them. Managing stresses in your business, department or team starts with that personal approach.
How to manage the risk of harm to self, and/or harm to others
8 Ways to address the risk of harm to self, and/or harm to others
If you're worried that someone is at risk of harming themselves, or others:
- You certainly need to have a conversation with that person
- Don't promise confidentiality
- Reassure the person that you'll only pass on vital information to get help for them immediately
- Share the information with someone you trust, can help you take action and share responsibility
- Don't leave your employee on their own
- Call someone who can come and collect your member of staff and take over their care - a partner, a family member or a friend
- Whilst waiting, ensure that your member of staff is away from glaring eyes
- Failing that, if you have no other option - take the person to a local mental health clinic or an Accident & Emergency Department
Occupational Health Department (You?) and stress
Do you have access to Occupational Health Advisers? If someone doesn't want to talk and doesn't appear to be helping themselves, then a referral to the Occupational Health Department may be helpful.
But please do try not to make judgements about whether or not someone is 'helping themselves'. It means different things to different people - and it's so important that you're supportive rather than critical.
Occupational health professionals are uniquely placed to advise you and your employee in order to acheive the best outcome for you both.
(On a side note, you might want to think about why your employee doesn't want to talk to you. Is it perhaps something to do with the way you deal with people?)
If all else fails, then you'll need to manage the situation using the normal tools, procedures and processes. My guess is that you'll have formal procedures in place and of course the first option you can look at is a development plan, including further training. Don't be tempted just to 'send' the person for counselling, though - trust me, it really won't work.
Stressed, working OK, and no risk?
There's nothing you can do - or need to do - if your employee is clearly having a really tough time, but doesn't want to talk and is continuing to work well. They may be experiencing Relationship Problems, familial or personal challenges - as long as they're doing OK at work, all you can do is to stay aware.
Successfully managing stressed staff requires early intervention - by talking, managing their workload and fostering good relationships with colleagues. These steps will help to avoid long-term absenteeism.
Inspiring your staff and improving the bottom line
How do you improve the well-being of your staff? One of the best ways is to pay attention to the human givens (see links below). In the following video Dan Pink highlights the value of ensuring that your employees can meet their need for a sense of autonomy, mastery and purpose.
From my perspective - your staff will feel all the better for it and will be much more productive. Science, as well as the experience of companies like Google, prove that it increases productivity. Ultimately that will look good in your balance books or on your CV.
All of the above advice will help you to improve and embrace emotional intelligence in your business. Being able to respond to people's emotions will help you in your personal relationships too. It can also add to the 'bottom line' as you become more skilful in your business relationships too.
Being able to read and understand people will make you a better negotiator - whether you're striving for that much-coveted business deal, funding for an extra member of staff or a salary increase. Emotional intelligence in business is a must!
Other Helpful Links
ScienceDirect - research: Is compassion for others stress buffering?
HSE - Stress indicator tool
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