You might not know it, but whatever’s stressing out your team is going to cause problems for you too. Whether they’re worried about how they’ll afford their gas bills this month or losing sleep over an argument with a colleague, stress manifests itself in all sorts of weird and not so wonderful ways. We’re talking reduced productivity, exhaustion, irritability, and mood swings – none of which are good for your business.
Knowledge is power, so finding out what’s giving your employees a hard time is the first step to helping them overcome it. Here are 5 of the biggest workplace worries – and how to deal with them.
Workload and burnout
Burnout and fatigue were the biggest struggles for 43% of people in this study (including both people who work remotely and in the office). Some of the reasons for burnout include an unmanageable workload, difficult personal lives, long hours and tight deadlines. Fortunately, most of these can be helped by managers and People teams taking the right steps.
TIP: Check in with your team
Make sure you’re regularly checking in with your team to check they’re coping. Maybe you need to push a few projects back or hire some extra staff to cover any rising workloads. And make sure any meetings you schedule are necessary – a calendar brimming with meetings that could have been emails is only going to make matters worse for already struggling employees.
It also helps to be able to spot the signs of stress, so you can then offer more personalised support. See if anyone’s making a habit of coming into work later, falling asleep at their desks or acting more twitchy or irritable than usual, and reach out to see if you can help.
Job security and fear of layoffs
36% of people studied by The Workforce Institute at UKG and Workplace Intelligence said they were worried about future layoffs. That includes all generations from Gen Z through to Boomers, showing how widespread a concern it is. And given how frequently we’re seeing big companies making redundancies in the news, it’s not a huge surprise.
The fear of losing your job is centred around a lack of control (which is especially difficult to deal with for ‘Type A’ personalities).
TIP: Be transparent
One of the best ways to deal with this worry is to be transparent. Keep employees informed about the company’s financial performance and their job status, for example, in monthly ‘town hall’ meetings. Be sure to address any rumours that could be upsetting employees or fuelling their fears.
It’s also a good idea to offer training opportunities (regardless of concerns around job security) so that people can feel confident in their own upskilling and career progression. This could be through shadowing other members of staff, hiring a mentor, providing a book budget or giving employees an allowance to attend events and conferences.
Conflict at work
According to a report for Acas, nearly 5 million UK employees suffered from stress, anxiety, or depression due to workplace conflict between 2018 and 2019. Conflict at work can stem from a number of things, ranging from poor manager relationships and unclear job roles to bullying and harassment.
TIP: Organise team events
Organising team building events is a great way to start improving relationships at work. Try asking your employees what activities they’d enjoy doing together – whether that’s an adrenaline-pitching game of axe throwing or a sophisticated dinner and drinks – and get something in the diary. Plus, as a manager, it’s an effective way to see which of your team gets on with the others and identify any potential tensions.
If you notice that workplace conflict is creating cause for concern, why not help people learn how to manage their response to conflict? They could start by understanding how, as an individual, they react to difficult situations. Maybe it manifests itself in physical ways like sweaty or clenched palms, or maybe it makes it hard for them to concentrate. There are plenty of relaxation techniques which can help, as well as meditation apps like Calm and Headspace.
In a global survey into employee wellbeing, two thirds of people admitted to going into work when they’re feeling too ill. This is despite acknowledging that their productivity could drop by one fifth as a result. Not to mention, knowing that they could spread whatever illness they have around the office, affecting other people’s ability to do their jobs.
TIP: Promote health & wellbeing
As an employer, it’s in your best interest to promote the health and wellbeing of your team. If you don’t already offer subsidised gym memberships as part of your employee benefits package, it might be worth doing so. If you can’t afford to, why not ask someone in your team to volunteer to run weekly yoga or HIIT classes in the office? Another idea is to suggest walking meetings to those who are comfortable with it, to give everyone some fresh air and a break from sitting down.
Of course, everyone gets ill once in a while. As an employer, you can minimise ‘presenteeism’ (where someone shows up to work physically, but isn’t present mentally) by creating an environment where people feel safe taking sick days. Instead of making them feel like they’ll be berated for it and that it could harm their career progression, let your employees know that you’d rather they rested until they feel back to normal.
It’s no wonder money is one of the biggest workplace worries when we’re living through a cost of living crisis. A massive 93% of UK adults reported an increase in their cost of living in April 2023, which is no surprise considering everything from milk to mortgages has gone up in price.
Most companies are also feeling the squeeze, so raising salaries might not be a realistic option for many right now. (If you’re not sure whether your pay brackets need adjusting, check out our guide to setting an awesome pay strategy.)
TIP: Support financial wellbeing
Why not give your employees the tools to better manage their financial situations – for example, by improving their saving skills and calming their anxiety? Octopus MoneyCoach gives every person their own money coach, to help them create a personalised financial plan from now until retirement.
There are other ways you can embed financial wellbeing into everyday life at work, too. Flexible working allows people to work when it best suits them, for example, if they have dependents and need to work around their schedules. For those with children, you might want to offer subsidised childcare or open a workplace nursery to help cover the costs.
Easing your team’s worries, whether it’s about money or health, involves making lots of little changes that really add up. You can start by de-stigmatising workplace stress by openly recognising it as a problem and encouraging people to open up about their struggles. Then, Ben can help with the admin side of things, enabling you to create a flexible employee benefits package that makes life easier for everyone, from day one. Fewer worries, better work.