How to take the stress out of workplace stress

9 Apr, 2018

South Africans are stressed out. A recent Bloomberg study revealed that Nigeria is the only country in the world more stressed than South Africa. And work is the most common cause of stress in adults.

You may think stress is natural and wonder what the fuss is about. Consider this: according to the Psychiatry Management Group, depression, burnout and anxiety disorders stemming from work-related stress costs the South African economy and estimated R40.6 billion a year.

Work stress is the result of the usual culprits, such as long working hours, office politics and uncertainty of client satisfaction. Employees also experience pressure when they feel uncertain about their performance, and high earners who usually have more responsibilities, subsequently have more work stress.

The impact of stress
Stress often leads to sleep difficulties, which in turn cause additional anxiety, disrupted concentration and decreased productivity. Tired people tend to eat more high-carb foods for an energy boost, but the short-term benefits of this can lead to long-term health concerns.

While most people will take measures to combat stress, such as exercising and discussing their concerns with friends and family, many will take sick days because they simply can’t handle another day. This often adds to the pressure as they have an increased workload when they return.

Why should you care?
Any great business leader will agree that their employees are their most valuable assets. So when you start noticing a change in your staff’s behaviour, it’s important to check in.

Some companies do have measures in place to help reduce stress levels and improve employees’ mental wellbeing.

Possible ways to support your staff

  • Suggest flexi time if it is viable
  • Promote exercise through a company gym or membership
  • Healthy eating in a company canteen
  • Allow for telecommuting
  • Organise social events
  • Provide stress management workshops and regular counselling services
  • Setup frequent one-on-one meetings

Last word of advice
Create awareness around stress and stress management. When colleagues don’t have to worry about being judged, they will feel more comfortable talking about their challenges and asking for help.