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18th October 2013

Employees more stressed than ever!

Employees more stressed than ever!  That at least can be implied from the latest CIPD survey into Absence Management. 40% of employers in the survey have reported an increase in stress-related absence. But a comparable percentage has also increased their focus on stress management initiatives.

There is much that can be done.

Workplace surveys

Many large organisations undertake these as a matter of routine, frequently using an outside party to avoid employees suspecting they could be individually identified. Surveys provide the opportunity to monitor a wide range of employee indicators which can then receive appropriate attention. Major stressors such as workload, work-life balance, role ambiguity and management style can be identified at a summary level. You can then take positive steps. For example, if role ambiguity is reported widely then it may indicate a need to look carefully at reporting structures. QCS can put you in touch with a provider of workplace surveys.

Flexible working

Organisations that embrace flexible working are significantly less likely to report “sickies” as a top cause of absence. That is not to suggest that flexible work will suit every organisation. Nonetheless emerging technology and software can make it much easier to manage complex rotas and it seems less ad-hoc absence will occur as a result.  You can google “staff rota software” to find providers.

Work-life balance

While this may be seen as the employees responsibility the employer also suffers if the employee gets it wrong. Excessively high expectations, often communicated unwittingly, can contribute. If an employee is putting in the hours but not getting the results then it may be the excessive hours that are the culprit.

Stress management training

This is widely available from a range of providers in a variety of forms. It can be tackled by good time management and relaxation techniques, or by more specialised processes such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Simple meditation is also gaining credence in the west and providing a room in which employees can simply be quiet may be another stress reliever.

Management style

Most “bullies” (the label itself can be unhelpful) do not know that they are bullying others. They often see it as strong management and can be devastated when they learn how they are perceived.  CIPD estimate that an employee who feels bullied will, on average, take 7 days more absence a year than one who doesn’t. A look at your absence statistics could be revealing!

Management training should provide the remedy. Do your managers know how to persuade and direct others? Can they “have a word” with an employee without damaging the relationship? Can they listen?

And the return on investment?

Stress-busting techniques reduce burnt-out absence producing huge ROIs . See: http://www.beatingburnout.com.au/benefitsroi. You can add to this higher productivity, greater creativity, improved staff retention, and the reduced risk of losing employees to heart attacks, strokes and other stress related illnesses.

Malcolm Martin – QCS Expert Human Resources Contributor

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

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