After National Stress Awareness Day highlighted the soaring levels of stress in the workplace during the past year, online resource Life Coach Directory has reported that business coaching terms have received the highest volume of queries in the same period1.
According to figures released to coincide with NSAD, in the past year alone, stress resulted in five million employees calling in sick to take a day off work – ringing up a £460m bill per day in wasted wages2.
Interestingly, Life Coach Directory – an online register of coaches and NLP practitioners – has reported that business and career coaching have remained the two most highly searched for terms on the website during the past twelve months – indicating that both employers and employees are now taking a more proactive approach to stress management and employee development.
Why so stressed?
A moderate amount of stress can act as a great motivator, encouraging us to push towards our goals, subsequently making us feel exhilarated when we see the tangible results of our efforts. Working under too much pressure however can become a problem – so much so that if the stress is left to build, it may begin to impact a person’s ability to carry out their work or other day-to-day tasks. So how can employees and employers identify and take control of stress?
Employees who have recently been feeling the pressure at work should look out for:
a change in eating habits
isolation from family and friends.
While the above list is not exhaustive, if any of the above symptoms reflect recent changes in either your behaviour or in the behaviour of a colleague and you feel this may be a reaction to events or experiences in the workplace, additional support such as counselling or life coaching may be of benefit.
What can employers do to identify and tackle stress?
Those who are in a managerial position should never underestimate the impact of stress on their team, and keeping an eye open for any employees who may be struggling to cope with responsibilities or workload should be an important aspect of the role. If you do identify workplace stress in a team member, see below for some useful tips on how to approach the subject:
Talk with your team member privately – If you have identified a change in the behaviour of a team member, take them to one side and gently voice your concerns e.g. “I’ve noticed you’ve been very quiet recently and I just wanted to check in to see if everything is ok?”
Don’t assume a change in behaviour is work related, we all have things going on at home that sometimes spill over into the workplace so be sure to let employees talk freely and prepare yourself to be surprised by what they may say. When they are speaking, listen carefully and express empathy.
Offer and provide support – Go in with the understanding that a team member may not feel comfortable speaking about their private life with you. Instead, make them aware of the workplace services and support available to them to help them during this time and make sure you are armed with the correct information e.g. telephone numbers, website addresses and leaflets etc. beforehand.
Reduce workplace pressure on a temporary basis – Once the source of stress has been established, a management discussion should be had so that a decision can be made on whether to cut down the employee’s workload.
Perhaps some aspects of their role need delegating to other team members, or maybe they require some extra support or training in order to carry out their role.
Follow-up – If you have referred an employee on to a support service or have reduced their workload temporarily, don’t just leave things there – follow-up to see how they are getting on.
Monitor their behaviour and schedule in a series of catch-up meetings so that you can have a chat about their progress and any setbacks.
How can life coaching help with workplace stress?
While examining the root cause and preceding events is the traditional way to treat stress, life coaching offers a contemporary and effective alternative that instead focuses on the future.
For employers with dispirited and stressed employees, group staff coaching offers practical solutions to get to the heart of business and improve morale and motivation among employees.
For the strained and downbeat employee who no longer feels satisfied or fulfilled with their job role, one-to-one career coaching provides a unique opportunity to seek out some career change advice from a professional coach to set you on your way to a more fulfilling life.
1: Information based on visitor searches carried out on Life Coach Directory between October 2012 and October 2013.
2: Tovey, Alan. 2013, Stress the cause of five million days off work, The Telegraph.
General information also obtained through Time to Change – How to cope with stress at work.