There’s no doubt that we’ve all experienced a high level of stress at some point in our working life. For some of us it may have been short term, and long-term for others. And for some of us, it may be an ongoing and constant source of struggle in our everyday lives. Studies have shown that when stress is prolonged, it can develop into psychological and/or physical injury, so at what point does stress at work become a bigger issue?
Stress is often amplified by a feeling of ‘lack of support’ in the workplace, a traumatic event, bullying or harassment, prolonged work pressures, issues at home, or any number of other tensions. In fact, mental health is responsible for around 6% and $543 million of workers’ compensation claims each year, covering approximately 7,200 Australians.
As part of Australian Workplace Health and Safety Laws, employers have a duty or care to manage risks which may cause any physical or psychological harm. So what can Employers do to ease the burden? Here are some short term steps to ensure employees feel happy and supported at work:
- Ensure job demands are achievable – workloads can be carried out and completed in a reasonable timeframe, with limited pressure
- Job control and ability – employees should be well trained in how to do their job safely, and provided with all necessary equipment and resources
- Communication and support must be top priority – employees should feel comfortable in talking to management about any issues, and feel supported and listened to if a problem should arise
- Recognition and reward – ensure employees are told when they’re doing a good job and provide opportunities for skills development and further training where possible
- Early intervention – develop a confidential survey to ask your employees if they’re okay, what challenges they may be facing and addressing any issues in the workplace… you may realise team culture or the workplace environment is different to what you initially thought!
And if that is the case, there are other solutions to assist employees improve their mental wellbeing, productivity and sense of support. Read up on Employee Assistance Programs and Return to Work Coordination, which are proven to effectively reduce problems associated with workplace stress and injury.