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Stress Awareness Month: How HR can help

Stress Awareness Month: How HR can help

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April is Stress Awareness Month. According to the charity Mind, becoming overwhelmed by stress can lead to a mental health condition, and accounts for the majority of all absences from the workplace. Over 11 million working days are lost each year to illness, according to Health and Safety Executive, with 57% of those in Great Britain being stress-related, and the average cost of a sick day sitting at £618 (HR Expert).

Dame Carol Black states that for every £1 spent on workplace wellbeing, a yield of between £3 and £6 can be gained in productivity and efficiency. By looking after your employees, they are more likely to stay with the business and work harder for you. Your people are your most important asset and we believe that if, as an employer, you keep up your end of the social contract, your employees will keep theirs.

Help is readily available.

For companies looking to improve their stress management, there is a lot of help available that’s easily accessible and not always at an additional cost.

For example, Mind recommends that employers start the conversation about stress in the workplace by creating a Stress Awareness Space. Sharing thoughts and anxieties in a safe environment can help employees relieve some of the feelings of stress. There are many other charities that also offer help and support, as well as training.

Many employers will have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in place, which can provide support to the overall business (e.g. through designated line mangers), as well as to the individual employee. Many employee benefit providers also host webinars on this topic throughout the year.

Managers are first-line support to employees, and they are crucial in this context. Providing mental health training to line managers, or having assigned and trained mental health first aiders/champions, can help identify someone who could be struggling and how best to help them.

Keep it on the HR agenda.

Essentially, destigmatising the impact of stress in the workplace can help build an environment where employees feel they can speak up about how they are feeling. Of course, it isn’t only in April that we should be conscious of this; stress awareness is a topic that should remain firmly on the HR agenda throughout the year.

So whether it’s building your organisation’s own stress support system, or seeking out external resources that can help, it’s our responsibility to make sure employees don’t suffer in silence.