How to manage stress in the workplace

Stress is a very real problem in the workplace and so it is really important that businesses have a genuine and supportive culture, not just policies that are applied inconsistently by different managers.

Losing a valued member of staff as a result of Stress, is expensive not only in terms of absence but potentially in any discrimination claim they could bring if it is found an employer has contributed to their condition.

Below are five tips for employers and businesses on how to ensure a culture that guards against workplace stress:

Communicate – Employers should have open lines of communication with all employees, making them feel valued and involved in their company.

Consult on change – Employers should inform and consult employees on changes that are likely to affect them before they take place and encourage them to ask questions, before, during and after any changes so that they feel involved in the process, making sure that their opinions are valued ad respected.

Manage Absence – Make sure you are dealing with employee absences appropriately, helping people return to work with the appropriate health services, such as, occupational health and return to work interviews.

Offer Help – Employee assistance programmes should be made available, for example confidential or in person counselling.

Lead by Example  Employers should lead by example and actively promote healthy lifestyle themselves by having a good work/life balance, managing working hours, using full holiday allowance and taking lunch breaks.

Stress is a tricky subject to handle, so if you are unsure we are here to help. For further advice or assistance relating to Stress Management or Stress in the workplace, please contact HR Revolution on +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

We are friendly expert HR professionals who can help you resolve any issues whilst supporting your employees and minimising any risk to your business.

 

 

How to identify stress in the workplace…

What is stress?… the definition provided by the Healthy and Safety Executive (HSE) is “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demands placed on them”.

As most people are aware stress is not a new problem, but it is something that employers now need to treat very seriously.

For employers the impact of stress is a very real problem.  Not only does it effect an employee’s health, morale, productivity, performance and attendance it can affect business productivity, employee turnover and reputation.

There is also a marked difference between stress and pressure.  In most jobs there is an element of pressure, but this can make employees feel challenged and motivated which can have a positive effect on performance.  Stress however, can cause a detrimental effect to employee’s mental and physical health and well-being.

According the the HSE there are six main causes of stress in the workplace:

  1. Demands – Employees may be unable to cope with the demands of their job, feel overwhelmed with work pattern, workload or environment.
  2. Control – Employees may feel stressed if they feel they are not in control about how they carry out their work, this can lead to them under-performing and feelings of isolation.
  3. Support – Employees can feel stressed if they are not being supported in the workplace by managers or colleagues.
  4. Relationships – If relationships within the workplace are causing stress, this can lead to allegations of bullying, harassment and bad team dynamics, and can lead to employee grievances being raised.
  5. Role – Employees can experience stress if they don’t understand what is expected of them in their role and responsibilities.
  6. Change – Managing change can be very stressful for employees, causing them to worry about how change will effect them.

As an employer it is always good to be vigilant as it is not just the workplace that causes stress.  In many instances personal issues such as relationships, family bereavement, illness and money can have an impact on a employees health.

Spotting signs of stress is key.  You may notice a change in an employee’s behaviour, habit or routine, for example smoking or drinking more, taking more time off or making uncharacteristic mistakes.

If you feel that you have an employee that is suffering with any of the indicators above and don’t know how to handle it, please get int touch with us at HR Revolution +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk, we can help you navigate any issues and make sure that your employee feels fully supported.

 

When do a few drinks after work turn into a potential HR nightmare?

In a culture where regular heavy drinking and partying hard has become the norm, many of us are no strangers to tipple after work, a glass of wine or two with colleagues to put the working week and the world to rights or an informal brainstorming session over a few beers to bond away from the constraints and routine of being tied to a desk.

But as a business owner, you no doubt fully recognise that alcohol can turn into a serious problem in your workplace if it’s not carefully managed.

What would you do if an employee turned up for their shift looking worse for wear and constantly late?  What if rowdy behaviour in the pub brought your business into disrepute? and what exactly is the difference between your employee enjoying a couple of drinks, and your business being faced with a more serious problem?

What you really need to understand is…

You have legal obligations under The Health and Safety at work Act 1974, The Transport and Works Act 1992 and The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

You must have policies that ensure that issues are handled fairly and consistently and your managers should have sufficient training and capability to deal with workers who need help.

It would be well to note here that taking a hardline approach rarely serves anyone well. You probably don’t need us to tell you that dragging an employee with a serious problem into your office and giving them a telling off isn’t going to fix anything.

As a responsible employer, you’ve got a duty of care to make sure that you support your employees through difficult times… Which is a solid reason why many employers now view alcohol and drug problems as illnesses that need to be treated through rehabilitation practices.

Of course, drugs can be a different kettle of fish entirely, as they’re less socially acceptable, and can have a much more damaging impact on a person’s life than enjoying a few drinks with workmates now and again.

Remember too that if you have a team of managers, their role is important in all of this. Can they spot potential problems? Do they have the confidence and ability to tackle them? Do they know where to turn to for expert help if things start to escalate?

If you’re just reading this blog out of interest, and you don’t have an issue like this in your workplace at the moment, then that’s great.  However, you must recognise that you do need to be prepared, firefighting issues like this is always going to be difficult for everyone involved.

This is complex stuff, and you don’t have to manage it on your own.

Get in touch with HR Revolution +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk to arrange a no-obligation and confidential discussion around how we might be able to help you deal with alcohol and drug problems at work.

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

Top 10 causes of stress at work

In this day and age we often hear a lot about workplace stress and sadly it’s symptomatic of society’s drive for constant growth and increased wealth, the outcome of which is ever increasing pressure on companies and employees alike.

Listed below are the 10 most common causes of stress in the workplace:

  1. Being given too much work
  2. Unrealistic deadlines
  3. Not being paid enough for the hours worked/duties performed
  4. Work-life balance
  5. Fear of missing targets
  6. Expected to work more hours than contracted too
  7. Poor working relationships
  8. Bullying or harassment
  9. Fear of redundancy
  10. Lack of control over work activities

So how can you deal with it? Well, start by showing signs that you really care.

Speak to your employees: try to get them talking in a relaxed setting outside the office and show real concern for their welfare.

Make small changes to help them out – it will foster a sense of trust that you may be willing to listen when there is a larger problem. While still challenging them, be careful to keep goals realistic.

Encourage an atmosphere where employees can tell their peers about things that aren’t working or make suggestions for improvements (keep it anonymous if necessary). Make sure the good ideas get acted upon or problems dealt with – very publicly – so that everyone knows you respect the process. This will build confidence that you take their views seriously, and if something can’t be solved, make sure you explain why.

Remember that employees can be stretched more when they feel listened to and respected as people.  They will work harder for you, and it will benefit you, your employees and the company.

 

If you have any issues with stress in the workplace, give HR Revolution a call +203 531 5388 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk, we are here to help.

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

The French win “The right to disconnect” for employees

On the 1st January, France’s new law “right to disconnect” came into effect.  This law is for any company with over 50 employees to initiate “switching off” from email, smartphones and any other electronic medium once their working day has ended.

Employers have a duty to regulate the use of emails to ensure employees get a break from the office.  However, if employers and employees can’t come to an agreement on the new rule, companies must publish a charter that explicitly defines their rights in regards to out of hours communications.

France’s Ministry of Labour was quoted “These measures are designed to ensure respect for rest periods and balance between work and family and personal life”.

Concern has been building for a while in France as recent studies found that approximately 3.2 million French workers are at risk of “burning out,” defined as a combination of physical exhaustion and emotional anxiety.  Also a study published by French research group Eleas showed that more than a third of French workers used their devices to do work out-of-hours every day. About 60 percent of workers were in favor of regulation to clarify their rights.

Although France is known for its “official” 35-hour workweek, for many companies it’s in name only. Many French employees continue working remotely long after they leave for the day. In fact, now that France has a record-high unemployment rate of nearly 11 percent, the 35-hour work week law has been called into question.

The “right to disconnect” law was part of a larger set of labour laws introduced in France last spring. The set was designed to combat some of the unintended negative consequences of the 35-hour workweek. One proposal, would give companies the right to renegotiate longer hours and to pay less in overtime to employees who stay longer. Another proposal would make it easier for firms to hire and fire employees. The “right to disconnect” legislation was the only one of the proposed laws that did not generate widespread protests and strikes in France.

France is actually not the first nation to enact such a law. In 2014, Germany’s labour ministry passed legislation banning managers from calling or emailing their staff outside of work hours except in an emergency. Nevertheless the law prompted several German companies to reduce the burden of overwork. Car manufacturer Volkswagen blocked all emails to employees’ Blackberries after-hours, while competitor Daimler said it would delete emails received by employees while they are on holiday.

Laws such as the one in France will certainly encourage better dialogue about effective work/life balance.  If companies can no longer dump as much work as possible on their employees regardless of working hours, they will hopefully make a concerted effort to define their expectations, what’s truly important, and how employees can contribute in the manner that’s in the best interest of their own health and the health of the company.  However, will this cause France to lose ground in the competitive global marketplace because its employees are working less than those in nations without such a law?  Many multinational companies already take a dim view of French business regulations.

Although, the “right to disconnect” law is unlikely to be introduced for UK workers, employers should not ignore the issues that can arise from excessive use of digital devices and establish boundaries that protect employees, encouraging all employees to adopt a healthy lifestyle and promote work/life balance.

If you need advice on any HR issues, give us a call at HR Revolution  +44 203 538 5311 or email info@hrrevolution.co.uk

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How to deal with a boss who is a psychopath…

I’m glad to say that at HR Revolution my boss is not a psychopath!! but apparently psychopathic bosses are alarmingly common, but not to worry as there are ways of dealing with them.

And at this moment in time this man is the absolute epitome… Last month Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States, a turn of events that still have left many people reeling and for those still adamantly opposed to Trump’s ascendancy there’s yet another unpalatable fact they may not want to digest.

Oxford University research psychologist Kevin Dutton recently used a standard psychometric tool – the Psychopathic Personality Inventory – to rank former presidential candidates and a series of historical world figures based on eight psychopathic traits. Trump scored 171… two points higher than Adolf Hitler.

But Trump is in good company. Recent research by psychologists at Australia’s Bond University, conducted among 261 senior leaders working in US supply chain management, found that 21% demonstrated clinically significant levels of psychopathic traits. This figure compares with around just 1% of the wider population.

Many in HR may not find this that surprising. The higher prevalence of destructive, ruthless and risk-taking behaviours among leaders has been well-documented over the years, not least in relation to the financial crisis. And managing such behaviours is something a fair few HR Directors will be no stranger to.

More surprising, perhaps, will be the claim from some that psychopathic qualities are not always inherently a bad thing. Being a CEO requires ambition, tenacity, determination, risk-taking and having a positive view of yourself and your abilities, which are “all more natural if you have psychopathic wiring, or else self-doubt gets in the way”.

While psychopathic CEOs will not be appropriate for all environments – and can cause a lot of damage – they may be right for some, she adds. These include fast-moving, high-risk commercial cultures such as financial services or organisations that require someone to take them through a major restructure.

But in more stable people-centric operations such individuals are likely to wreak havoc. A senior lecturer at Nottingham Trent University’s business school, explains: “People with psychopathic traits are generally very charismatic and have lots of energy, vision and confidence, but there’s a piece missing for them, and that piece is empathy. You could almost feel sorry for them as it’s just how their brain functions – apart from the fact they leave a trail of destruction behind them.”

The upshot is that the business is likely to start haemorrhaging talent, particularly at the senior manager level as they will be directly affected by the CEO’s inability to relate effectively to others.

If you’ve got toxicity at senior levels it makes it more challenging to have a positive culture as that kind of behaviour reverberates around the organisation. People often unite against the toxic executive, but it can cause quite large ripple effects and is a huge distraction.

One possible way of minimising the impact is to create a strong team around the boss, not least to deal with people issues and put out fires.  If you frame it in such a way that it’ll make the CEO’s life easier, for example ‘they’ll take over the stuff you can’t be bothered with so you can focus on the things you love doing’, the CEO will almost certainly sign up to anything.

But the real danger comes if such leaders are surrounded by ‘yes men’ that cannot or do not challenge them.  It might sound scary but it boils down to how you present difficult issues and, just as importantly, possible solutions.

People are afraid to tell CEOs the bad stuff because they’re scared of the repercussions, but some people are simply not aware of how they come across. So if you point out ‘this is what you’re doing and this is the impact’ it can make a big difference.”

While bosses who are true psychopaths will not care if their behaviour is having negative repercussions on others, being clear about the negative consequences in business performance terms will make a difference because it reflects on them and taps into their likely narcissism.

Psychopaths hate drawn-out processes so if they decide they want to fire people, make sure that they are made aware that people aspects won’t go away and they’ll lead to legal issues, which will cause a lot of hassle; so you need to follow the rules’.

As with any boss, the most successful way of handling such individuals is to think about what they need from you – which will not be how you feel about x or how well you have collaborated on y. Instead it will be about talking the language of results, facts and deliverables and spelling out in clear business terms the prizes that are to be gained or the pain that will be suffered if a given action is taken.

However maybe the days of the psychopathic boss are numbered, not least because millennials may increasingly refuse to put up with such behaviour.  If they don’t like a situation they’ll just move on and then we’ll see companies having to explain what they are doing about it.

Need any advice handling on a toxic employee, give HR Revolution a call +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

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A version of this article first appeared in HR Magazine.

How to have a better Blue Monday

How is your Monday going?  It is the start of a new week, probably lots to do, reading and actioning emails and maybe planning ahead for yourself and your team members.

Did you know that today is “Blue Monday”, why you may ask,  it is because apparently the third Monday in January is labelled as the most depressing day of the year.

Its origin was once a year, due to a combination of factors: being a Monday, Christmas well and truly over, the weather being pretty dismal, holidays a long way off, all lead to feelings of negativity and impact on work productivity.

However, not all psychologists agree with this description:

“The reality is there’s no such thing as the most depressing day of the year and it trivialises serious mental health issues” says Dr. Mark Winwood, Director of Psychological Services at AXA PPP healthcare.  “Mental Health and Mental illness is an ongoing matter and achieving a good work-life balance is important to being a healthier you”.

The emphasis shouldn’t focus on a “once a year” effort to cheer employees up, but should be something that is addressed all year round, encouraging better worklife balance as Dr Winwood explains.

“When you are mentally well, you are better at making the most of your life and work.  That doesn’t mean you’ll never experience any type of emotional problem, but it can mean that you’re able to deal with difficult or stressful situations more easily.  Research also shows that positive people tend to live healthier lifestyles”.

However, Dr. Winwood agrees that the “Monday Blues” can lead to less motivation, so employers should be looking at ways to improve on employee morale.

“If you think you workforce are lacking Monday motivation, identifying the reasons behind the low morale is key.  For example, improving the working environment is just one step to changing this.  Some minor improvements, such as better lighting, more comfortable chairs, or a supply of hot drinks, water and caffeine free alternatives may improve things for everyone and thus alter the mood”.

AXA PPP have designed the above infographic with tips on how to power on through and stay positive whenever those feelings hit.  However, it is important to stress that depression and mental illness shouldn’t be blamed on any single day – as there are 52 Mondays/weeks in a year.

Lets have a happy Monday instead.

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A version of this article originally appeared on breatheHR

Prime Minister pledges to “transform” attitudes to Mental Health

I think the following is going to be a hot topic for many employers in 2017 and hopefully not a workplace taboo anymore…

Recent research from Mind states that around one in six UK workers experience a common mental health problem.

Prime minister Theresa May has pledged to help schools and companies “transform” attitudes to mental health problems.

In a speech to the Charity Commission, May said she will instigate a review on improving support in the workplace, led by mental health campaigner Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of the charity Mind.

Research from Mind states that around one in six UK workers experience a common mental health problem such as anxiety or depression, and one in four people will experience a mental health issue each year. ACAS estimates that mental health problems cost UK employers £30 billion a year through lost production, recruitment and absence.

“For too long mental illness has been something of a hidden injustice in our country, shrouded in a completely unacceptable stigma and dangerously disregarded as a secondary issue to physical health,” May said. “Yet left unaddressed it destroys lives, it separates people from each other, and deepens the divisions within our society.

“I want us to employ the power of government as a force for good to transform the way we deal with mental health problems right across society, and at every stage of life.”

Additionally, the government plans to expand treatment by investing in and extending digital mental health services. More than £67 million will be spent on a digital mental health package so that people worried about mental health issues can go online, check their symptoms and access therapy.

Mr Farmer welcomed the announcement. “It’s important to see the prime minister talking about mental health, and it shows how far we have come in bringing the experiences of people with mental health problems up the political agenda,” he said.

“Mental health is everyone’s business and we need to see sustained leadership to make sure services and support improve for all of us with mental health problems. Having been neglected for decades, we need to see it made a priority for decades to come to make sure everyone with mental health problems can live the life they want to lead.”

If you have any issues in your workplace that you’d like to discuss in confidence, give HR Revolution a call on +203 538 5311

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A version of this article was first published on HR Magazine

Why is Christmas just so stressful…

They say Christmas is the wonderful time of the year, for me it totally is, but for many, it can be the most stressful time of the year… but why?

At work;

  • Getting through the office Christmas party
  • Gifts for the office (those who you want to buy for!)
  • Secret Santa
  • Getting in early enough to get the holiday week off work!
  • Making sure you have all your work up to date before you finish up.
  • Handing over to anyone who may have chosen to work the holiday season.
  • Letting your clients now that you are out of the office and when you are back!

and that’s before you even begin at home;

  • Getting your decorations up in time
  • Buying the tree and decorating it perfectly!
  • The food
  • The drinks
  • Planning and hosting your parties
  • Catering for your Christmas day festivities
  • Wrapping everyone’s presents
  • Keeping everyone smiling!
  • ….The list is endless!

For those of you that love it all (like me! I may not be very good at it, but love it all the same) you will have no problems, you’ll plough through everything and just get it done with a Christmas smile, but for those of you that don’t its a mountainous chore that can be seriously stressful!

We get it! Christmas isn’t for everyone! 
We understand why the festive period is so overwhelming, with the pressures from online magazines and social media, of smiling, organised people that seem to be skipping through the festive period without any issues or stress what-so-ever!  The smoothly run Christmas parties, perfectly wrapped gifts, homemade goodies, beautifully decorated homes and not to mention the turkey!

But fear not – remember this is the world of social media where “everything is awesome” in the REAL world you choose how stressed you get, you choose to what levels you really want and need to be at… is getting super stressed REALLY worth it!  Not when it ruins your Holiday season that’s for sure!

Over the last few years, the portrayed image of a ‘perfect’ amazing Christmas with everything in its place with no dramas, has overtaken the festive spirit.  General responses from those we asked said that their top two stresses include:

  1. Unrealistic expectations for your big day;  setting your expectations (or indeed expectations on others!) too high comes with the risk of just ending up disappointed, and at the top of the Pinterest fails list! Facebook stories and smiling photos of family and friends enjoying each others company just pile on the pressure! Remember I very much doubt you would want to pin or post a photo of your kitchen after you’ve burnt the turkey, the office party where everyone is grumpy, your family day mid row!  Well remember neither does anyone else. These Social Media sites are for those wanting to show all the fabulous times – which we love by the way!! We just don’t want you using these as guidelines to a stress-free Christmas.   Take the pressure off – personally I think  Christmas is better when its a little crazy!
  2. Too much commercial focus, too much to buy; Life is busy enough without having to go overboard with the extras which are now becoming more and more common-place, like home-made wrapping paper & cards, elaborate catering ideas and the need to come up with ridiculously inventive antics for the ‘Elf on the Shelf’ on a daily basis to name a few!  Take a deep breathe and decide what’s important to you and make that happen!  Jot down your list and take the top 5 things and these you focus on – the rest if they are important delegate!! Getting everyone involved in the process makes for a much more healthy and happy holiday.

So here’s to a very merry, stress-free Christmas

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Don’t blame the weather, after all it is Winter…

Ok so I am a self confessed lover of winter, all that snuggling up in cosy jumpers and endless mugs of hot chocolate, but even as a fan of the colder months the constantly changing weather can be frustrating.

All we hear about is “floods looking set to hit the south again” and “the El nino effect is happening this year”, we’ve even had the odd tornado, but even with all the warnings one thing is for sure, the roads will be impassable and the rail network will at some point come to a halt due to icy tracks!  Now we blame the government all the time for not putting in the correct measures to ensure that Britain keeps moving, after all this is not the first time “winter” has come to our country! But as employers, what are you doing to make sure your business continues to operate?

Ok, so you can’t grit the roads, and you certainly can’t dredge our canals and rivers, but you can ensure that your employees know where they stand and what they can do when they really can’t get to work.

Have you put working from home measures in place? Do you have an alternative office to work from? Have you allowed any flexibility for your staff that can get in but might just take that bit longer? No, well now is the time to do it!

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