We all expect to have pressure at work, some more than others but we shouldn't just accept that excess stress is the norm. What about wanting a life too?!
Employees are having to deal with more and more stress, indeed, just getting to work with all the recent train strikes was stressful enough! According to new research, women in particular are putting up with high levels of stress and unhappiness in the workplace, with 70 per cent saying their stress levels are at five or higher out of 10 (research by Lee Hecht Harrison Penna).
It's not rocket science to realise that work-life balance is critical for reducing stress levels and therefore having successful and happy employees. Although we as employers like to think that our jobs are the be all and end all in life, sadly, they are not! People have lives and it is so important to recognise that. If you understand the strain your employees are under outside of the office, you are better placed to support them at work.
Companies really need to recognise the importance of flexibility at work and supportive working practices to help overcome this issue.
Rachel Suff, employment relations adviser at the CIPD, suggested that “Employers need to look at how well their corporate culture supports good mental health and employee wellbeing, but policies alone are not enough to shift behaviours. If organisations promote a culture of inclusion and openness, employees are much more likely to understand the importance of a stress-free workplace.”
A very disturbing study by Bupa revealed that around a third of line managers would struggle to identify whether their staff were experiencing mental health problems. Is that perhaps because they are too stressed themselves to look up from the parapet and consider how others are doing?!
A survey by PwC, published in July, found that almost a quarter of employees felt their employer was failing to take wellbeing seriously. That is shocking. Can we not see that happy, well-balanced employees are more productive employees?
When we think of work-life balance, we tend to assume we are talking about women but they are not alone in facing these balancing difficulties . A global study of 250,000 participants by the University of Georgia, published in July, found that men were struggling to juggle work and family life just as much as women, but felt less able to talk about the issue openly because they feared negative career repercussions or threats to their masculinity.
At Elliott Barton Recruitment we speak to people all the time who are reviewing their work-life balance and leaving stressful jobs to try and adjust the balance. Why not try to support these great employees so they don't need to leave and find a more supportive employer?
I'm not just getting on my soap box here, we live by this at Elliott Barton. If someone in our team needs to go and watch sports day - of course they must go! What else would they be doing at work otherwise when it's going on - feeling thoroughly miserable and spending the whole time wondering how it's going! By understanding what is important to your employees, they are happier, well-balanced and much more loyal. In this market of low unemployment and competitors constantly trying to entice your employees away from you, can you really afford not to consider this approach?