So. The Greek Finance minister is in hospital with stomach pains, and Antonio Horta Osario, CEO of Lloyds Banking Group has been signed off by doctors for the next 6 weeks with stress. These are just the high profile cases, but more and more people are suffering from very serious stress in the work place.
My question for the discussion by this group of wise and agile minds is; what can we meaningfully do about it. Is it just a fact of modern life, or are there ways that we as a profession can fight job induced stress?
We specialise in designing and implementing health & wellbeing programmes in businesses that focus on prevention (where it's not too late) and management of issues including stress. We draw upon the best thinking from various organisations including Mind and urge employers to listen to their people.
What can we do? We can talk openly about it, for one thing. Campaigns like Time To Change are creating great discussions and a new openness about mental health. We need to capitalise on the progress being made. It's a long road, but one we have to travel.
Often stress results through poor training, bad systems, obstructive policies and a lack of communication. A health check of the business often reduces or eradicates some of the causes. This is time consuming, however, so it's a good idea to break each area down and really give them full concentration. Handle what's urgent and important first... everything else will follow.
Developing a better working culture is proven to reduce the risk of employees taking time off with stress, or any other sickness. HR can make little changes like adopting consultative methods on things like change, workplace systems and new policies so people feel valued, included and like they matter.
There's no 'silver bullet', but there are positive steps HR can take to lead managers and staff to better thinking and calmer waters. We just have to accept it takes a while... and is utterly worth the effort.