Managing stress in the workplace

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WE ALL work in an environment that expects instant communication and instant response; each of us has to find our own way of coping with the pressures that this 24/7 world creates.

Stress was responsible for more than 10m lost workdays in the UK last year. So it is clearly important that employers and employees learn how to manage the situation.

To help, the Health and Safety Executive has produced the Stress Management Standards, covering six areas of work that, if not managed properly, can lead to lower productivity and increased sickness absence:

• Demands, such as workload, work patterns and the work environment.

• Control, such as how much say an individual has in the way he or she works.

• Support – the amount of encouragement and resources provided by managers and colleagues.

• Role. Do employees fully understand their roles within an organisation?

• Change, including the managing and communicating organisational change.

There are a number of ways individuals can manage their own daily pressures:

• Time management. Identify the time of day when you are most effective and use it properly. Apply the three Ps: prioritise, plan and don’t procrastinate.

• Manage expectations. Don’t over-promise or you’ll always under-deliver.

• Be realistic. Accept the things you can’t control

• Leave work at work. When you do, you’ll often find that your subconscious has been working while you sleep, which is why a good night’s rest can help us reach solutions that no amount of worrying would achieve.

We each have different stress thresholds and it is up to us to ensure we don’t cross them. And employers must ensure they don’t unduly add to these pressures.

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