Men’s Health Week is just around the corner (13-19 June) and this year’s theme is combating stress. Stress and depression can be caused by a number of issues and they are one of the main reasons why people take days off work, accounting for almost half of all long-term absences. Those most at risk of suffering from mental health issues are employees working in sectors with high demand levels over which they have little control.
We work very closely with the construction sector, a sector that is typically both physically and mentally demanding, and as a result, workers can often face challenges associated with mental health.
Stressful situations can lead to more than just feelings of unhappiness; they can also result in serious physical and emotional health problems. Employees who feel weighed down by stress and anxiety, be that from issues in work or in their personal life, may find it difficult to concentrate, which if working on a construction site for example, could lead to a serious accident.
Taking action in the workplace to create a stress-free, positive environment should be of paramount importance for any employer in order to improve employee health and wellbeing. When employees feel well in themselves, they tend to be more satisfied and engaged with their role, often having more positive attitudes towards the workplace. And, not only this, it’s also good for business. So how can bosses ensure they are looking after their staff members?
Offer flexible working opportunities
To combat the pressures of a demanding career, offering the right benefits can help to keep employees happy and motivated, and also minimise stress levels. For example, offering flexible working opportunities is a great way to create a healthy balance between work and home life, keeping staff members engaged with their work. This could include ‘flexi-time’ or remote working to allow workers to vary their work schedule and work from a location they are comfortable in. This may be of particular value to those with families or other priorities outside of work. By supporting their needs, this will help to make workers feel important and valued.
Arrange regular progress meetings
Good communication plays a big part in the running of any business to ensure everything operates smoothly and any issues can be picked up straight away. However, it can be difficult to listen and communicate with everyone in the company, particularly in large organisations where there are lots of workers. As such, it could result in some employees feeling as though their opinion is not valued by the firm, which could lead to low morale and a demotivated workforce.
For this reason, it’s crucial that employers foster good relationships with their teams, so should any problems arise, they can be acknowledged and effectively resolved. We have found the most effective way to identify issues is to hold regular progress meetings with staff to give them the opportunity to discuss anything that may be affecting them. If work-related issues are raised, we can work together with staff to come up with a solution. For instance, if workloads are becoming a cause for concern, some time management processes could be put in place to release some of the stress or tasks could be delegated to other staff members. Alternatively, if problems are occurring outside of the office, employees may find it beneficial to simply talk about their worries with their manager or human resources, or managers could put them in touch with professional services that could help.
Engagement and praise are also key to ensuring workers feel valued and to aid their wellbeing. Those employees who feel as though they’re doing a good job are more likely to continue putting in the effort and feeling positive at work.
Organise team-building activities
Encouraging people to get to know each other better, perhaps by arranging regular social activities and team-building events, also helps to establish a stable workforce. Employees can spend a lot of time working closely so it’s important that they get along and work well together. Organising events outside of the workplace, such as family fun days and summer activities, will encourage stronger working relationships and greater communication between the workforce.
Overall, creating a healthy working culture can really make a difference to how happy and well employees feel. Being part of a caring and supportive team can significantly reduce stress levels and ease some of the burdens that we often face in our lives, especially as we spend a large amount of our lives at work. And when workers are engaged with their jobs and colleagues, they’re more likely to be productive and motivated to succeed, which is hugely beneficial to the business too. Boosting mental health will not happen overnight, but creating an initiative that enhances employee wellbeing will have positive impacts on performance, job satisfaction and engagement.
By Wayne Lysaght-Mason, managing director at IronmongeryDirect