Thursday, 30 April 2015

Work related stress: Finding the balance between hard worker and happy worker.

21% of employees take their work home with them

Where do we draw the line between being a good hard working employee and being a healthy and happy one? There are times when working late and taking work home are considered the sign of an employee that goes above and beyond. The difference between the guy who sits at his desk doing the absolute minimum amount expected of him and the guy that gets the promotion or bonus. Ambition in the work place is a great thing to have and something all managers look for in potential employees.

So where does it start going wrong?

Taking work home fills in those few hours between getting in from work and getting up to go to work again the next morning. Filling in this time with more work means that you are never switching off and can lead to feelings of guilt if the work is not done, even if the work is extra or additional to your regular workload. These feelings of guilt can lead to anxiety and a fear that you may lose your job. Often these feelings are irrational but they can have severe negative affects to your physical wellbeing such as loss of sleep, lack of appetite and occasionally severe fatigue or exhaustion. Your mental health often affects your physical health but people may only take time off work if they have a physical illness. A hard worker that takes on extra work to impress and succeed would be more likely to take a day off work if he broke his leg than if he was feeling stressed or depressed. This is often because physical wellbeing is seen as a priority over mental wellbeing, even though the two are often linked.

Should I stay or should I go?

Often people believe that they should be in work even if they don’t feel up to it because at least work will get done, however this causes employers to lose money every year. Attending work whilst ill is known as presenteeism. Presenteeism can lead to work not being done correctly or work being completed late. If a day off is taken the employee tends to feel slightly better the day after and working harder the day they go back, as opposed to going to work and performing at a low standard for  a series of days. However taking time off work also has its own problems too, not only is it costing the employer money but the employee then has to go back to complete two days worth of work instead of one therefore adding to the stress that made them want the time off in the first place. Another common issue is the more time off someone has from work due to stress the less likely they are to ever go back. The worry and fear that is associated with thinking about returning to work can be easily remedied by taking an extra day off therefore putting off the stress for a little bit longer. This can easily become a trend and a large number of employees off work due to stress never return.

Finding the right balance

So we've worked out that sometimes you want to go the extra mile to be the better employee, how do you do that without making yourself ill?
The easiest solution is to have an employee wellbeing strategy that focuses on work related stress. This way managers understand the signs of stress and use encouragement and positive reinforcement instead of taking their staff for granted or being overly critical of them. Employees should have the ability to leave their desk or office and go for a walk to take a short break from work, flexible working hours also help to prevent stress as it provides a simple way of managing work and personal life. Of course there are always going to be people that suffer from work related stress and there are always going to be businesses that handle it better than others but by discussing the issue we can slowly prevent and lower the amount of stressful situations in the workplace.

Rightsteps offers a range of employee health services including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.   Supporting employees with the most common forms of mental ill-health including stress, anxiety and depression. To find out more about our services contact us today on 0300 123 1530 or visit our website at .  

Mental Health in the Workplace: The Stats

Here at Rightsteps we know that sometimes it can be difficult to understand how certain factors can affect or benefit your company. To help you out we've created a simple infographic that highlights how mental health in the workplace can affect your business, employees and bottom-line.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

What is CBT?

There are many different explanations out there on the internet that attempt to describe what Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) really is. Some of them are overly technical and complicated and some of them are very simple and don’t fully explain how it works. This is us trying to create a description somewhere in the middle.

The easiest way to get an understanding of what it’s all about is to look at how it can be broken down:

CBT is a way of understanding the world. Different people see the world in different ways. For example some people find spiders fascinating whilst others find them terrifying. These thoughts are what make us all different. However they can also cause us problems. CBT is a way of looking at negative thoughts and finding ways to change them therefore changing the way you act in certain situations.

CBT can help with a wide range of mental health difficulties. From mild stress up to strong levels of OCD and depression, all our behaviours can be changed by adapting the way we think and perceive the world.

In order to best understand how the therapy works its best to use an example. Following on from the previous example of a fear of spiders CBT can be used to adapt the thought processes in order to overcome the anxiety associated with this fear.

For example:
A fear of spiders stems from a belief that spiders are dangerous and can cause the individual harm. The individual with the fear will then avoid spiders in order to lower their anxiety. Whilst this anxiety is lowered on a day to day basis, when the individual does come across a spider their fear is heightened even more.
This is where CBT can intervene. By changing the initial thought processes and beliefs it can eliminate the fear altogether. By encouraging the individual to spend more time with spiders and directly interact with them the individual realizes that no harm has come to them. When they next come across a spider the memory of holding a large tarantula and being safe will be a more predominant thought than of being afraid of a smaller house spider. Therefore the individual no longer has the anxiety associated with the fear.

CBT works on a personal level with the individual to discover where various thought processes and behaviours stem from. The individual will work with the therapist for a set period of time. Unlike other talking therapies that can go on for years CBT is known for its quick treatment. Usually 6-10 sessions are enough to begin the initial behaviour changes. In between sessions the individual will work on various exercises to help reinforce these changes and ensure that they learn to help themselves instead of relying on a therapist. This ensures that they have a healthier future leaving them in charge of their own thoughts and behaviours.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Stress Management Top Tips for Employers

10 Top tips for employers managing employees who are experiencing stress related symptoms

  1. If stress is being directly caused by overwork in the business, then try to reduce people's workload. Ensure your employees' targets are challenging, but realistic, and encourage delegation of work, where appropriate.
  2. If your employee has experienced personal problems external to work, such as a relationship break-up or an illness in the family, always take a sympathetic approach.
  3. Review people's performance regularly, so that they know how they're doing. This will enable them to get timely feedback about any potential problems and assist you in identifying any training needs they may have.
  4. Check employees are well-matched to the duties they've carry out. When you're recruiting staff, make sure that your recruitment and selection procedures help you to do this.
  5. Make sure that all employees are encouraged to take their full holiday entitlement.
  6.  Ensure that you have the proper discipline and grievance procedures in place to tackle bullying and harassment in the workplace.
  7. Keep your employees' informed about your business' direction and make sure that you tell them about any significant changes to the business – change can be hugely unsettling.
  8.  If an employee is suffering symptoms as a result of stress, discuss with the employee concerned before you make any decisions. Make sure that you include the employee in conversations about their welfare, and the support options available to them.
  9. Consider whether the employee should be moved or work fewer hours, or otherwise vary their work. If they're off sick, keep in touch. Beware of the employment law implications in relation to “reasonable foreseeability”.
  10.  If necessary, enable and encourage the employee to seek further help through Rightsteps – For further information visit .