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 .  

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