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We all suffer from it from time to time. Stress, in itself, is not bad, it is simply our automatic response to new situations.  Our subconscious mind uses stress to push us forward so that we perform better.  Stress becomes a problem when we feel as if we can’t escape the issue causing the stress.

In 2020/21 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 50% of all work related ill health cases. One of the key reasons for that was cited as a lack of managerial support.  A staggering 70 million work days are lost due to mental health problems in the UK alone which costs employers around £2.4 billion each year!  And that doesn’t take into account the very real human cost to people’s lives and families.

And before you put the blame on the managers consider those most likely to experience work stress on a daily basis. That would be the managers.

If the group of people most likely to suffer with stress are the ones having to help their team with their stress, at best that help will be ineffectual; at worst, it just increases the manager’s stress. So, it’s no wonder we have issues!

What can be done to help both the managers and their team with stress?

  1. Setting goals/giving feedback.  Employees say that they’re not sure what is expected from them, and they don’t know whether what they are doing is enough. The best way to overcome this is to talk about expectations and strategies, whether as part of a formal performance appraisal process or through more informal and regular feedback. 
  2. Communication.  Recognising that we all have our own preferences. How do you prefer to communicate? A quick chat? Email? Messaging? Are you open to interruptions whilst you’re working? How do others know what you prefer?
  3. Don’t eat at your desk. Sit elsewhere to eat lunch and if you can, take a 10 – 15 minute walk outside to clear your head. 
  4. Encourage your team to celebrate their wins. They don’t have to be big. They also don’t have to be connected to business.
  5. Encourage your team to go home and not just spend time in the office (or at their desk if they are working from home). Managers should be questioning if someone is always working late. Working long hours should be the exception, not the rule. I have had managers who want their team to be at their desk until 8 or 9 PM because this supposedly indicates that they’re being more.
  6. Don’t miss out on those watercooler moments even if you still working remotely. Allow a little time within team meetings to have a chat about anything that comes up.  
  7. Don’t forget to put breaks in your calendar.  Whether you are in control of your own diary or you have colleagues able to book meetings in, you need to schedule time away from your desk because it’s too easy to get lost in what you’re doing and forget to step away for a time.

What have you found to be most effective at dealing with stress?