Work-related stress is when work pressures outweigh a person’s ability to cope with their demands. It can affect a person both physically and mentally.

Recent studies estimate that 38.8 million days were lost to work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries in 2019/20. When we break this down, stress, depression or anxiety accounted for most of these absences. This translates to 21.6 working days lost, with the average person taking 17.6 days off work.

Around 1 in 40 people are currently dealing with work-related mental health issues; what does that mean to you as an employer?

Do employers have legal obligations concerning the mental health of their employees?

Yes. As an employer, you have a legal obligation to ensure that the health and safety of your employees are protected and that they can work in a safe working environment. This even includes employees working from home.

Most mental health conditions are likely to meet the criteria of the legal definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010. This means those with mental health conditions are likely to be protected from disability discrimination and may be entitled to reasonable adjustments from their employer. Employers must do all they reasonably can to support their employees’ health, safety and wellbeing, including carrying out the appropriate risk assessments.

Stress risk assessments are legally required, even though not legally required; mental health risk assessments are an excellent idea to ensure you are supporting your staff in the best way possible. 

According to HSE guidance, there are six critical areas of work design that, if not managed correctly, can increase poor health and wellbeing, increase sickness absence, and reduce productivity.

These include:

  • The demands on a person, which can include workload, work environment and work patterns.
  • How much control or say employees have over their work.
  • Support provided, including the resources and encouragement provided by the company, line managers and colleagues.
  • Avoiding conflict, dealing with unacceptable behaviour, and promoting positive relationships.
  • People understanding their roles within the organisation.
  • Dealing with change in a way that is managed and communicated throughout the organisation.

People will deal with challenges differently, and not everyone will feel stress at work. What is essential is being able to identify the signs of work-related stress and putting systems in place to support those employees at the point of need.

Work-related stress may present both physically and mentally. Common symptoms include:

  • Not feeling motivated or feeling committed to your job
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Losing confidence either in yourself or your ability to do your job
  • Difficulty in decision making
  • Feelings of anxiety, depression or generally more emotional
  • Irritability or having a short temper
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty relaxing or being able to switch off
  • Feeling tired and having a lack of energy
  • Sleep issues
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Indigestion, digestion issues
  • Changes in weight
  • Changes in appetite
  • Low libido, relationship issues
  • Headaches
  • Chest pains or tightness in your chest

You may also notice changes in behaviour in an employee, such as becoming more isolated, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs to cope. In addition, employees may take more time off sick, make mistakes, and not do their job well.

As an employer, these issues can translate to difficulties in the work environment, such as:

  • Reduced job performance and work quality
  • Adverse effects on relationships between co-workers and management.
  • Reduced job satisfaction
  • Turning down opportunities and promotions
  • Avoiding innovation
  • Less effective planning

Taking steps to support your employees will help to reduce some of the risks and increase the benefits to your organisation. Some organisations find that complementary therapies provide a helpful addition to their support network. For example, many employees have experienced incredible results during individual and group hypnotherapy sessions for dealing with stress, anxiety, and work performance. Team leaders and managers can also benefit from these sessions to help deal with performance anxiety, goal-setting and increased work performance.

Lesley uses hypnosis as a powerful tool to help to reduce the effect of stress and anxiety, establish helpful coping strategies, and create positive neural pathways that enhance new ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

Contact us for more information on how Lesley can support your business.

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