Employee Well-being and the Impact of Stress on the Workplace
It’s the first day of Spring and the sun is shining through the office window. Whether your staff are out and about in the fresh air or sitting at a desk looking at a screen, how they feel about their working environment, and their sense of employee satisfaction, will have an impact on their productivity and even general health. Multi-million and billion pound businesses can create amazing spaces for their employees: Google’s head offices are decked out like an adult play-zone with basketball courts, giant slides, pool tables and allotment spaces. There are cosy rooms to relax and share ideas and bright open spaces for meetings and lunches. As amazing as they look (Google them!) a recent survey of 1, 096 British workers by CartridgePeople.com shows that only 8% of workers described these facilities as being at the top of their wish list for their dream office.
Small to medium business owners will be relieved to read that many employees list much simpler demands for their dream office. Rather than asking for selfie booths (
8%) or sleeping pods (7%) many of the employees surveyed listed more obtainable requests such as access to windows that open to provide fresh air (49%); space away from work areas to enable employees to eat their lunch away from their desks (44%); and spaces brightened by plants and flowers (40%).
11.7 million work days lost to stress in 2015/16
Such things may seem trivial and easy to dismiss but when the recent statistics from the Labour Force Survey are considered (from the Health and Safety Executive Website) the figures are far from trivial. According to the data in the article, Work related stress, anxiety and depression in Great Britain
in 2016 there were:
⦁ 488,000 cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2015/16
⦁ 11.7 million working days lost to these conditions in the working year
⦁ 24 days lost on average per case
In fact, 45% of all working days lost to ill health were due to stress. Now stress, as we all know, is a daily part of all our lives. We need a certain amount of stress to motivate and engage us in tasks and to focus our minds on doing a job well. The difficulties arise when, as a result of factors both in and out of our control, stress levels tip from being manageable to unmanageable; and this is at a different point for each and every one of us.
Being aware of our own surroundings and the factors that both exacerbate and help us manage stress can be an important strategy in managing well-being. Employers can also help their work force by modelling good stress management strategies. Again, it’s the simple things that count: having access to decaffeinated hot drinks and water stations will encourage people to avoid overdosing on stress-inducing levels of caffeine. Providing opportunities for employees to get out for a walk during their lunch hour and encouraging positive discussions about hobbies and relaxation can help them to incorporate stress management techniques in their daily routine. Add this to open windows, proper lunch breaks away from desks and some office greenery and you have a few affordable strategies for keeping your workforce happy and healthy.