To close our series on workplace stress, we’re exploring how employers and business leaders can identify and prevent causes of stress in the workplace.

There are four key strategies that I encourage leaders to undertake to protect their staff and get the best of their skills and contributions. Let’s check out the first two strategies!

1. Analyse your workplace for stress triggers

To figure out how to effectively manage and prevent workplace stress, you need to know what could be causing it.

You can achieve this by carrying out a genuine analysis of your workplace as it stands. Take a look at your organisational structure, your teams, and the roles of each individual.

You’re looking to gain insight into:

  • each employee’s expected workload
  • what resources you currently retain to run your business
  • the tasks each role performs and who is performing them
  • the specific skills each staff member has
  • the level and scope of training that each staff member has

Collecting data doesn’t sound particularly sexy, but it’s absolutely critical to preventing and managing workplace stress.

How do you perform a genuine analysis of your workplace?

You can carry out this analysis in a number of ways. Some people might manually collect and calculate the data. Others use automated matrixes that can generate findings with data provided by you and your staff.

Whichever route you take, it’s important that you’re unbiased and unflinching about the data you’re collecting. Plus, consider how certain types of data can relate to others – resource, tasks and workload will inevitably inform and affect each other. 

As part of my services, I consult a workplace analysis matrix to generate accurate and informative data through a sophisticated algorithm. Then I translate any jargon into insights on how your organisation can effectively manage and prevent workplace stress.

An added benefit of bringing someone like me in to perform this task is that I’m an independent party with no skin in the game. You’ll receive objective, accurate results so you can start making those powerful changes.

Why is it important to perform a workplace analysis?

In order to make positive changes, you need to know the lie of the land first.

An accurate and unbiased analysis will help you figure out where the pressure points are, make adjustments, and reap the rewards. You’re on your way to nurturing a contented and productive workforce!

After you’ve collected the data, you can start to see where improvements need to be made. Take the skills analysis, for example – if you’ve got someone who’s great at creative problem-solving doing complex data entry, they’re going to take three times longer to do it than their colleague who delights in detail.

As employers, it’s your job to lead the way on this kind of analysis. Even if you’ve got an open-door policy, your staff aren’t necessarily going to come forward and tell you they’re stressed – they may not even realise it themselves.

2. Review and change your terms and conditions

First things first, read your contracts. Fire up all the contracts you and your employees have signed in the past however many years. Read them.

Open the latest version of the contracts new starters have to sign for every role in your organisation. Read ‘em. Hell, read your own contract while you’re at it – if you have one!

Take note of what arrangements and employee benefits (if any) are laid out in black and white. Start to notice if there’s anything currently in place in your organisation that isn’t showing up in the contracts, such as flexible working.

This gives you a clear starting point to begin updating and changing your T’s and C’s.

What employee benefits could you include in your terms and conditions?

‘Employee benefits’ describes non-wage compensation or incentives that you provide your employees in addition to their salaries. Here are a few examples:

  • flexible working or flexitime
  • remote or hybrid working opportunities
  • flexible working specifically for parents, carers or pet owners
  • additional annual leave
  • additional sick pay

While the word ’benefit’ suggests an optional extra or perk, some are now being considered almost the bare minimum of what’s expected from an employer.

Not every business needs to include all of the above in their employment packages. I help my clients deduce which benefits will have the biggest impact on their people’s wellbeing, outline how they work for their business, and incorporate them into the contracts going forward.

Why is reviewing and changing your terms and conditions so important?

If you’re going to the trouble of implementing positive changes in your business in order to relieve workplace stress, they need be reflected in the terms and conditions.

No matter how juicy the perk, worry and doubt are going to creep in if they’re not legally protected rights. That’s going to undermine your efforts to reduce workplace stress.

Bedding your benefits into your terms and conditions prevents scenarios like these:

  • During the hiring process, you identify a fantastic candidate. When they ask about remote working, you reassure them it’s possible. But when they don’t see it in the contract, they go with another offer.
  • You offer one staff member flexible working for childcare. Another employee needs the same accommodation, but because they’re new to the company and it’s not in their contract, they don’t want to risk asking.
  • A staff member has an agreement with their manager that they can take a longer lunch on Mondays to attend therapy. The staff member moves teams, and because their contract doesn’t specify this as a right, their new manager rejects the agreement.

You put thought and energy into making your employees’ lives easier. If those arrangements aren’t there in black and white, you’re not reaping the benefits of these efforts.

And in some cases – as described above – you might even be making a rod for your own back.

Boosting resilience to improve productivity

These two steps represent incredible opportunities for businesses who want to grow and succeed.

They don’t cost very much to implement, but they can save you so much in the long run. Protecting your people from workplace stress means you reduce instances of long-term sick leave, staff burnout, and legal contention.

When you give your people everything that they need to smash it at work, their resilience rises and so does their productivity – and that’s good news for any business!

Look out for the follow-up to this post next month, where we’ll be exploring the final two critical steps you can take to reduce workplace stress.

If you need support with any of the issues in this article, book a call with Ella