Work related stress is the most prominent reason for stress over the last year, with recent HSE data estimating that about 828,000 employees in 2020 have experienced some sort of work related stress or other harmful reaction (eg. depression) due to pressures and demands of their workplace, both new and long standing. This is in line with our own data, showing that approximately 70% of LiveSmart users have been experiencing work related stress.
When asked, most employees report that this could be a result of increased workload (having to meet tight deadlines, working in understaffed teams or taking on too much responsibility) combined with a lack of support from their organisation and employers.
Even though managing symptoms of stress and anxiety should be everyone’s responsibility and there are many strategies the employees could use to support their own stress management, employers are legally responsible to protect their employees from stress at work by assessing potential risks and acting upon the findings (known as the ‘Management Standards approach’).
What are the key things to think about?
There are a number of factors that can have a negative impact on employee health if not properly managed, that can be summed up in the following 6 categories:
- Demands: Understanding the demands of each job and ensuring that this is kept in line with the capabilities of the employees and within the agreed work hours
- Control: Encouraging employees to be accountable for their tasks, using their initiative and skills and supporting professional development
- Support: Support is available to all employees and policies/ procedures are in place to respond to individual concerns
- Relationships: Promoting positive working and have outlined policies to prevent or resolve unacceptable behaviour and unfairness
- Role: Ensuring that the employees have a clear understanding of their role in the organisation and are not expected to take upon conflicting roles
- Change: Open and clear communication and procedures are in place if the organisation is undergoing any changes.
Analysing data such as staff turnover rates and sickness absence can provide a good first step to understand how satisfied the employees are with their workplace, however this may not be enough. Understanding what impact the role demands have on employees' physical and mental health is key.
This could be reflected by changes in their weight and body composition (as stress can affect food choices and eating patterns), reduced focus and concentration due to not getting a restorative nights sleep or also self reported high stress levels and low emotional health.
Based on the data we have collected from our own user’s surveys and health assessments, even though 66% of our users have been overall satisfied with their jobs, 60% have rated their current stress and anxiety levels as higher than optimal. Moreover, 1 in 6 users would like to reduce their stress and improve their mood as their main health objective.
When asked about the benefits provided from their employers, only 1 in 4 of the respondents reported they are completely satisfied with what is offered by the company, whilst a significant amount mentioned that even though there are some options available, it is unclear or confusing how they can access or utilise this additional support.
It can often be difficult for employers to provide support options and benefits that can apply to the majority of their employees. Adopting a holistic approach via digital health assessments, where the individuals can find out more about their current health and identify the areas they would need to take action, can help create a more personalised and tailored wellbeing program. It can also help companies gain a better understanding of their employees as a group and utilise their resources in an optimal way.
Most of the people that have used LiveSmart have identified a range of areas they would value as a company benefit; for example 1 in 2 users would like to be offered more gym and sports facilities discounts in addition to flexible work hours to allow for more exercise opportunities in their day, whilst 1 in 3 would like to focus more on improving their nutrition either with nutrition seminars or healthier food options within the offices. Instead of providing a generic support program to include all areas which can be costly and eventually underused, focusing on 1 or 2 actions according to what the majority of your employees value can increase employee satisfaction whilst keeping the wellbeing programs within predicted budget. As an additional bonus, providing a personalised wellbeing program and making each employee feel valued and heard can reduce staff turnover, increase productivity and also underline a businesses’ position as an attractive place to work.
LiveSmart provides a remote, digital-first health MOT and one-to-one health coaching to help everyone in your business feel happier and healthier. Moreover, LiveSmart utilises each company’s health data and analytics to identify areas for improvement and ensure that the benefits provided are having a positive impact.
People who eat well, sleep soundly and manage stress effectively are more focused, energised and engaged. LiveSmart helps you understand how your team's health and wellbeing is affecting your business – and offers expert-led strategies to overcome any challenges.