Stress is Australia's secret productivity drain. The high-pressure, target-based modern work environment means more staff members than ever before feel the strain when things start getting difficult. High-stress working conditions also leads to more mistakes, sick days and makes it difficult to retain employees, as their work/life balance swings too far towards the former.
It can easily be a crippling workplace distraction, and, in the worst cases, it can even lead to health issues, putting employers in line for a compensation claim.
Mental stress costs Australian businesses more than $10 billion each and every year
Such is the impact that Safe Work Australia believes mental stress costs Australian businesses more than $10 billion each and every year – something that will be worrying for HR professionals and business owners alike.
HR consulting services manage employees on an individual basis, helping to understand how they work and how to get the most from their potential. When stress begins to mount, workers also have a place to go for support.
While HR consultants can certainly work best in a specific manner, depending on the worker and the industry, company and environment in which they work, there are some typical ways to help reduce workplace stress. Here are three of them:
1) Encourage exercise
Exercise is no doubt good for the body, but research from the American Psychological Association (APA) also shows that it can help the mind, too.
"Preliminary evidence suggests that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than sedentary people," the APA explained. The researchers said that exercise toughens the brain's "stress buffers", helping employees to cope under pressure.
Employers may wish to improve the resources on hand for workers to move around. People in office jobs, for instance, could be encouraged with free gym memberships or active work events.
2) Eliminate workplace bullying
According to Safe Work Australia, younger workers are more often exposed to stress from workplace relations, bullying or violence. The distracting nature of workplace conflict is often enough to dramatically affect worker productivity, though that can be exacerbated by the associated boost in mental stress levels.
Having a clear code of conduct regarding employee relations can ensure everyone knows the repercussions of bullying, and the steps to take should anyone find themselves a victim of it.
3) Provide achievable goals
Meanwhile, work pressure was the leading cause of mental stress compensation claims by older workers. This is likely to run throughout your workforce if you don't give your employees achievable targets.
Sure, there's an argument that a high benchmark pushes people to strive for the best, but when it's too high, you could easily discourage them all together. Work with your employees on setting a target everyone is comfortable with.
Safe Work Australia Chair Ann Sherry suggested that awareness around the issue of stress is a good starting point for improving the average workforce.
"These findings highlight why it is necessary for employers to be aware of stress-related issues and improve current work practices to decrease unnecessary stress in the workplace," she explained.
We agree, and you probably do too. For a range of help, advice and support, Flexi Personnel is on hand for all your HR consulting needs in Victoria. Contact your local team for more information.