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How to sack stress and protect your people

Encouraging your staff to take control. Backing them up in times of need. Putting plans in place for when things get tough – tackling stress at work can do wonders for employee wellbeing and see your business soar. So how exactly does stress affect your people? And how can you show stress the door?

Deployed soldier, military general, firefighter, airline pilot: the top four most stressful jobs out there, according to a recent survey by job search website CareerCast. But whatever tops the stress charts, we can all suffer stress at work. And any job can be made less stressful with the right support, systems and approaches in place.

Tight deadlines, long hours, ever-growing to-do lists and unforeseeable circumstances can all take their toll on your people. In our Investors in People Wellbeing at Work Poll (February 2014), which questioned 3,000 people working in a wide variety of sectors, more than 50% of employees felt that their bosses didn’t care about their mental wellbeing, so long as they got the job done. And over a third of these people had already considered looking for a new job.

What does stress mean for you?

With low morale, stressed out staff are more likely to take time off work. Our survey showed that stress makes ‘sickie’ rates soar: one in 10 Londoners have ‘pulled a sickie’ more than five times in the past year alone. What’s more, unhappy staff give less to the organisation when they are there. And they’re less likely to stay with you in the long term – increasing your recruitment and training costs and impacting on your ability to attract and retain the best talent.

So the bottom line is, stress is bad for your people and bad for your bottom line. It’s time to tackle it head-on.

Take stress in your stride

The good news is that having the right systems and support in place can reduce stress levels, and increase employees’ motivation and commitment towards what they do. 51% of the people questioned in our survey said that health and wellbeing benefits provided by their employers had added to their overall sense of job satisfaction.

Whether it’s talking to your team to find a working pattern that fits for them, being more adaptable to their needs, encouraging regular breaks and exercise or simply showing your appreciation for their hard work, focusing on wellbeing can work wonders. In fact, our survey revealed that eight out of 10 employees would feel more positive towards their employer if they offered health and wellbeing benefits.