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How to manage teams through stressful times

Sathya Smith, CEO and Founder - Piper

Work related stress is everywhere. In Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace study, 44% of participants revealed they suffered from workplace stress, daily.

Some people look at workplace stress as a motivator, however, too much of it can seriously impact more than just your work – your mood, your body and your relationships can all decline. In 2020/21, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that stress, depression, or anxiety, accounted for 50% of all work-related ill health.

Management expert and CEO of Piper, Sathya Smith shares her guidance on how managers can better support their teams.

Sathya explains: “While stress in the workplace is unavoidable at times, it is important that it is managed correctly and the signs of employees struggling with stress are spotted early before it escalates. Managers need to identify and understand the sources of employees’ stress and advise on how they can provide support in response to their teams’ concerns.”

Nurture a healthy company culture
A mindful work culture doesn’t just happen, it must be created. It is crucial that businesses are encouraging a working environment where honest communication is valued, and where opinions and feelings are respected.

As many as 23% of employees from a 2021 study reported feeling stressed at work. Everyone experiences and deals with stress in different ways, and what may be easy for one person can be too much for another. Feeling able to discuss these issues with a manager or fellow employee can release some of the tension built by stress.

Many look to HR leaders and managers to give them a sense of direction when they are feeling overwhelmed; it’s essential that support is in place when needed. Employees need to know that their management team is there to hear them and offer solutions wherever possible.

In some cases, this will mean conducting regular 1:1s with guided tools to ensure you communicate with and support your employees as best as possible. While, in other instances, further intervention may be needed, such as signposting to trusted mental health services or offering paid leave.

Lead by example
A hefty workload and an unhealthy work/life balance can further escalate feelings of stress. Employees need to know that it is okay to take a step back and have time away from work to fully switch off. When people in leadership roles demonstrate this behaviour while achieving their goals at work, it encourages their workers to do the same.

It is also vital that HR leaders and managers communicate candidly about stress and encourage employees to speak up if they are struggling, opening the floor for conversation.

Spot the signs
Spotting the signs of stress is not always easy, especially with remote working when most communication is held online. However, some common signs to look out for are:

  • Decreased performance
  • Mood swings or sudden change in behaviour
  • Loss of motivation, confidence, and engagement
  • Missed deadlines

Sathya Smith, CEO and Founder of Piper, comments:

“Today, employees are expecting more from their workplace. Workers desire a culture in which they can grow, professionally and otherwise, as well as a space where they feel confident enough to speak openly about any issues or concerns.

Employers need to actively encourage this kind of environment while also leading by example when it comes to handling stress, addressing it head-on rather than bottling it up. When employees see their managers establishing healthy boundaries, they follow suit, leading to a happier and more productive workforce.”

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