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Five ways to tackle stress in the office

By Helen Pentith  //  Wed 10th September 2014
Meeting table in the countryside

Work-related stress costs the UK economy nearly £6.5 billion a year. Stressed employees take more sick days as respite from the office, and it’s been proven that stress increases the incidence of physical ailments, in addition to exacerbating or triggering other mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. It’s in everyone’s interest to combat office stress.

Here at Escrick Park, we’re lucky enough to work in a rural office that provides us with greener, more peaceful surroundings than your typical workplace. While not every company can relocate their office to rural Yorkshire, there are still numerous steps employers can (and should) take to reduce employee stress.

#1: Evaluate workloads

Take a fresh look at the amount of work that your employees are expected to complete. Have they been given additional responsibilities since their contract began? Are they struggling to complete tasks? Do they regularly stay late to finish? It’s not rocket science: giving employees less work to do will reduce stress. In addition, employee morale will increase and they’ll be much more likely to remain loyal to your company if they enjoy their job. Furthermore, talk to employees and find out if there are any particular tasks that they find stressful. Work out ways of reducing the stress caused by these tasks, either through changing processes or redistributing the workload.

#2: Show employees they are valued and trusted

If employees are checked up on frequently, it’s unlikely that they’ll be enjoying their work. Provide your employees with more freedom to manage their time independently. This will make them feel more valued – and, importantly, trusted. Giving employees additional choice and flexibility can significantly reduce stress, even if their actual workload itself does not change.

#3: Provide mental health support

Employees suffering from stress often feel isolated. They don’t expect their employer or supervisor to understand their problems, or perhaps not even to listen to them. Employees may be worried that their employer could dismiss them if they admit that they aren’t coping with their workload. Create a work environment that is supportive of mental health problems. Try to reduce some of the stigma surrounding mental health, and assure employees that their concerns will be listened to.

#4: Look out for workplace bullying

Good relationships with colleagues are essential in the modern office environment. Workplace bullying leads to stress and anxiety for the victim, and reduces your staff’s capacity for teamwork. Stamp out workplace bullying by asking supervisors and employees to report any instances of bullying. Improve the office spirit by arranging work nights out.

#5: Improve the office environment

If your office building was constructed in the 1960s, it’s probably not the perfect 21st century office environment. Update your break room, open up the office layout and perhaps add a splash of colour to the place. Add a new air conditioning system if necessary, and ask your staff if there are any other changes they’d like to make to the office.

Moving to a rural office is perhaps the greatest improvement to the office environment you can possibly make. If you’d like to explore this option in more detail, take a look at Escrick Park’s rural commercial office lets.
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