An Apple a Day…Tackling Stress and Health at Work

26th June 2014

Stress is something we’re all familiar with and something that affects us all, be this in the workplace, in our personal lives or – more worryingly – in the state of our physiological well-being. With the consequences of prolonged, serious stress so detrimental from a medical standpoint, it’s no surprise companies are taking it seriously.

Expecting leaders to lead when it comes to stress management however can be like apples and oranges…they’re often the most stressed of us all.

From the Top Down
A thanks to HRZone who wrote the article that inspired this post, the statistics about stress in the workplace throughout the staff hierarchy are shocking and we’ve included a couple below:

- Seventy three percent of managing directors report themselves to be stressed
- Sixty four percent of chief executives, 58% of senior managers and 44% of average workers also feel the strain

It doesn’t need to be this way. Even President Obama doesn’t have late nights at work! He arrives home and eats dinner with his family at 6.30pm every night.

Saying “no” to Taboo
The HRZone post also covers the need to instigate change from the top down, citing:

“Often, those at the top are reticent to admit to being stressed or anxious as it could affect their career opportunities and risk them appearing weak. However, they must lead by example in minimising their own stress (which can be a gateway to other more serious mental health conditions) and ensuring that employees know there will be no negative consequences of admitting they need support”.

What We Think
As one of the growing number of online recruitment agencies with nothing but an internet connection being required to get to work…we take this issue very seriously. The working week is just that – a working week, Monday to Friday and we give ourselves plenty of time to rest. We’re well aware that it’s not easy for leaders to lead from the top down (we find it incredibly tough ourselves), BUT there are small, manageable ways in which leaders can begin to do so.

Similarly, the odd late night working here and there isn’t a terrible thing – it’s when this becomes a habit that it’s damaging.

Steps You Can Take
One study by Leiden University found that simply taking time away from your desk at lunch time helps a) prevent work becoming overwhelming and b) helps people to think more creatively (if your role is a creative one this is especially important!).

Additionally, the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) reported that health professionals, educational professionals, and welfare and housing professionals report the highest cases of work-related stress – so think about your career choice if you’re susceptible to stress.

Managing Stress in 2014 – Conclusion
It’s all well and good dictating what we should do to tackle work-related stress, but the facts are that salaries are plateauing, whilst job availability is only just starting to increase, the cost of living is sky high AND the standard working day is expected to be 2 or 3 hours over the norm of 9 – 5 for many now. One positive though is the taboo around stress and mental illness is being lifted, making it (hopefully) easier to speak to employers/managers/leaders about stress.

What do we think? We think it’s time to talk.

Jamie Mistlin find me on Google+.

"Even President Obama doesn’t have late nights at work! He arrives home and eats dinner with his family at 6.30pm every night."