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Helping Employees Through Stressful Times

Helping Employees Through Stressful Times

Feb. 2, 2021
Communication is what prevents those initial feelings of pressure, anxiety or demotivation from becoming mental health problems like burnout, says well-being consultant Angela Knox.

Almost a year ago, stress was something that would come and go in our lives.

But after almost a year of dealing with COVID-19, the stress has been constant. Even with the relief of a vaccine, new strains of the virus are being uncovered.

The disruptions to our lives are countless but looking specifically at our work-life balance, many of us now work at home, which has been good for some but not so good for others. Even with the positive effects some of us might be feeling, we are missing the support of colleagues. That support can fill both a social aspect but also has hindered the ability of our company’s EHS professionals to keep an eye on us.

There are some ways, however, to help manage this stress. Angela Knox, co-founder and director of Keep Fit Eat Fit, a well-being program for remote workers, offers these tips:

  • Encourage regular exercise. Even a brisk 10-minute walk can have a real impact on mood and motivation; it doesn’t have to be a 10-mile run. Getting away from the desk to exercise in the fresh air has a direct link to increased productivity.
  • Ensure employees don’t sit at their desks for too long. Humans are not made to sit for long periods, and a five-minute desk break every hour reduces the risk of injury, refocuses the mind and helps break the monotony of both home and office working – even if it’s just a walk to the kitchen for a cup of tea.
  • Encourage quitting unhealthy habits. Poor diet and excessive drinking both have a major impact on a person’s stress levels, as does smoking. In fact, a recent study found that quitting smoking made immediate positive improvements to mental health, especially after the first four weeks.
  • Make sure people talk to their line manager. Communication is what prevents those initial feelings of pressure, anxiety or demotivation from becoming mental health problems like burnout. The sooner  employer is aware of the problem, the sooner they can do something about it.
  • Set up routine catch-ups with the team. With a large number of employees now working from home, it’s important to keep lines of communication open to keep the social aspect of work. This reduces the feeling of isolation and has positive a impact on well-being.
  • Promote mental health days. Fostering a workplace culture where people don’t feel guilty for occasionally taking the day off sick – even if they’ve not got a physical illness – will help alleviate longer-term stress and maintain morale.
  • Push annual leave. Employees should be encouraged to use all of their holiday allowances each year, even if they’re not going away anywhere. This fosters a healthier work environment and creates a better work-life balance that benefits everybody.

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