By Maximilian Clarke

Stress is now the most common cause of long-term sickness absence amongst employees with job security being top of the list of worries.

According to a recent survey, the current economic climate means that both manual and non-manual workers are now more stressed than ever before.

With National Stress Awareness Day taking place on 2 November, Inspiring Business Performance (IBP), the Investors in People centre for London, the South East and the South West, is encouraging organisations to become healthier and work with the ‘Health and Wellbeing Good Practice Award’.

“Health and wellbeing is much broader than just encouraging healthy eating and physicalfitness; gym membership and the odd bowl of fruit is simply not enough to deliver a motivated workforce," said John Telfer, Managing Director of IBP, which provides advice and support to businesses. "With job satisfaction difficult to provide in the current climate, many employers are focusing on achieving employee engagement, providing support to workers and ensuring they are managed as well as possible.”

John Telfer has compiled his Top 5 Tips to help combat stress and job security worries:

• Adopting flexible working practices can make life much easier for employees. Altering working hours, allowing remote working or even just making time for an employee to attend an important family event will all be appreciated.
Be honest if the organisation is going through a tough period. If employees know what is going on, they can pull together and will often have innovative ideas to improve the situation.

• If salary increases are difficult to provide, offer other incentives such as further training. In-house training is inexpensive and a boosts morale for all concerned while employees keep their skills up-to-date, making them more valuable to the organisation.

• Learn to walk away from a stressful situation. Take a five-minute break and return with a positive attitude.

• Remember to have fun; laughter in the workplace can be a huge boost to morale.

John Telfer continued: “Some of the healthiest organisations we work with have not spent thousands of pounds on expensive schemes. They have simply concentrated on the fundamentals of good communication, effective and fair line management and providing support to enable their staff to do the best job possible.

“There are huge costs involved in absenteeism including agency cover, recruitment costs and health insurance. Having a healthy workplace has proven benefits including improved morale and motivation, a higher level of productivity and loyalty and, not least, reduced absence rates.”

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