Fiona Neathey is Acas Regional Director responsible for the whole of London, Eastern and South East England. Prior to this she worked as Head of Research and Evaluation at Acas, following roles at the Institute for Employment Studies, Industrial Relations Services and the Civil and Public Services Association. Fiona gained a B.Sc in Sociology with Industrial Relations at the University of Bath and an M.A. in Industrial Relations from the University of Warwick.
“…In an environment where employers and employees are being asked to do more for less, it can feel like a real juggling act for women like us who combine a career with caring for a family…”
National Stress Awareness Day
Today (5th November 2014) is National Stress Awareness day – held to raise awareness and celebrate ways of helping people beat stress. This year’s theme – “Stress: the balancing act” – rings close to home for me, as a workplace expert, at the employment relations specialists Acas.
I want to talk specifically about stress in the workplace; how to recognise the signs; the support available and how employers can make the workplace environment stress free. Stress can seriously affect the mental health of employees. However, it’s become part of every day language. Often you might hear someone – a friend, a colleague, a relative, a stranger – say “I’m so stressed out!”
What does stress really mean?
Stress is a big deal and needs to be recognised as such. It also costs organisations a lot, through absence and lower productivity. The Centre for Mental Health estimates that the total annual cost of mental health problems at work is nearly £26 billion. In an environment where employers and employees are being asked to do more for less, it can feel like a real juggling act for women like us who combine a career with caring for a family.
It’s important that employers and line managers are aware of their responsibilities and spot when someone is struggling. Employers also face legal risks if they ignore their responsibilities. There are some common early warning signs of stress at work, including: loss of motivation, individuals working extra long hours, poor timekeeping, uncharacteristic displays of emotion, isolation, an increase in poor decision making, missing deadlines or poor planning.
Help is out there
Acas has practical guidance on stress in the workplace on the Acas website http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=782. This month we’ll be running a live Twitter session on stress and mental health. Follow us @acasorguk and look out for #AskAcas