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Stress and Change

Stress and Change

I recently attended a great training session on Stress run by Gateway HR, which reminded me just how negative an impact stress can have. In fact, mental health is one of the biggest HR issues facing UK employers today, with the latest Health and Safety Executive figures showing that 49% of all working days lost in 2016-2017 were due to work-related stress. That’s a huge figure.

When people suffer from stress at work, it impacts not just the individual, but their colleagues and, of course, us as the manager, as well as the wider organisation. 

Stress can be caused by many things, including relationships between employees and between employees and their managers, individuals’ roles and the support they receive. 

It’s important to be aware at all times of the pressures our staff are under and to be monitoring this to ensure that the degree of pressure is healthy – sufficient to encourage motivation and performance, without exhaustion, anxiety or panic.

This is perhaps particularly relevant during times of change, which for many of us is a near permanent state of affairs anyway. Change by its very nature creates uncertainty, which can lead to feelings of anxiety or of ‘being out of control’. On top of this, change often involves an increased workload. It can create the perfect storm that pushes people beyond stretching themselves into mental strain and panic.

As a manager, we are our team’s first line of defence against stress. It really is incumbent upon us to create a working environment that encourages great performance, whilst providing the support needed to ensure individual pressure does not become too great.

Key to knowing how a team is coping is regular and effective communication. That needs to be two-way, and to be effective there needs to be trust. Too often people are frightened or ashamed to admit they’re struggling, or feeling under stress. Take the example of Carrie’sConundrum, which is a great exercise to explore with your team why it’s important to have conversations, even if they feel difficult.

Whenever you’re implementing change at work, always remember to take the time to consider the impact upon individuals within your team, and their needs, as well as the ‘bottom line’. Doing so will help to ensure they are better equipped to journey through the change with you successfully. 

Here are a few activities that will help you explore feelings around change and identify the reasonable adjustments that will help your team achieve success.

And for a bit of fun for those who try to avoid change, try Procrastination – A Hot Topic.

Until next time…

June 14 2018 Rod Webb
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Rod Webb

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