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April is National Stress Awareness Month: 3 Tips to Address the Elephant in the Room

April 7, 2017 / Employee Wellbeing Best Practices / Andrea Maltman

April marks National Stress Awareness Month.

For most workplaces, stress is the elephant in the room, hiding in every department and going largely unaddressed because, let’s face it: no one wants to be the first to put their hand up and say, ‘I’m struggling over here.’

Leaders may also be fearful, and unaware of how best to approach the issue sensitively.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t make stress any less of a threat – or a reality. 80% of US workers are stressed on the job and the total cost adds up to USD $300 billion in lost productivity, according to the American Institute of Stress.  

Awareness Month provides employers with the perfect opportunity to start the conversation – one that  resonates and extends beyond April.

Here are three tips to help you broach the subject of stress:

Take stock

Have an in-depth look at your current processes for managing stress. Assessing where you are is critical to developing new policies and practices that are effective. A good first step is to commission a survey. Monitor engagement, sickness absence levels, staff turnover and accidents – all may be indicative of high stress levels.

Top-down

Educate fellow leaders in your organization. If leadership sets the right tone, then people feel more comfortable asking for help in this environment. Have managers maintain regular contact with their people and remember: the aim is support, not diagnosis.

Strike a balance

Provide a balance between work and life responsibilities. Constant connectivity to mobile devices means work has moved from a nine-to-five shift job to an ever-present concern. Allowing employees to take a mental break at home – on weekends, holidays and evenings – sets them up to succeed at work.

For more practical tips to transform your culture, download our Stress Toolkit.

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