Stress Awareness Month: Lose The Guilt

April is Stress Awareness Month.

Sponsored by The Health Resource Network (HRN), a non-profit health education organisation, Stress Awareness Month is a national, cooperative effort to inform people about the dangers of stress, successful coping strategies, and harmful misconceptions about stress that are prevalent in our society; and especially at work, where we spend the majority of our time.

See the thing is, presence doesn’t mean productivity and unfortunately many employees feel under the presence-pressure; as we like to call it. This could be a culture created by management, or an internal thing; either way, it isn’t productive.

A TUC study showed the average UK employee now works an extra seven and a half hours of unpaid overtime every week.

Yet if you look at the nation’s productivity, it becomes clear that all this extra work is useless: the UK’s productivity gap with the rest of the G7 is currently the worse it’s been since records began.

It has been discussed many times by Scientists and long know, that neither our brains or bodies are capable of sustaining high-quality, CONSISTENT output for 8-10 hours each and every day.

Desk-squatting for an extra hour every day probably isn’t paying dividends!

In fact…our previous blog post talks about the importance of MAKING SURE EMPLOYEES TAKE BREAKS! 

If you’re an Employee or Manager, there are some simple tips you can follow to take measures to help reduce any workplace stress! After all, this could mean reduce sick days and a happier, more productive team; winners all round!

  • Establish a break culture – A designated, comfortable break room, provided drinks and healthy snacks are a great start! Staying hydrated helps keep focus and employees will take breaks regardless, so encourage them to take breaks that will energise them!
  • Keep meetings short and sweet – For almost a quarter of workers, the biggest time sucker is unnecessary meetings. Think about sending an agenda pre-meet so you (and others) know what is to be discussed and you can stick to the points and any actions required.
  • Walking meetings – Why not take a meeting (if possible and weather permitting) outside. Get some air, move your legs. We spend a lot of time sat at our desks and sometimes a good old fashioned stretch helps to re-energise the mind and body.
  • Incentivise – One-fifth of employees in the Salary.com survey said they wasted time at work just because they ‘don’t care that much’ about their job. This might be hard to hear for Managers or Employees, but you need to accept de-motivation can be linked to workplace policies. Talk to your employees and find out what makes them tick. It isn’t always financial reward; many value flexible working or holiday time they can spend with family.

In summary, if you’re an EMPLOYEE you shouldn’t feel guilty if you want to leave at the time your day job ends (when your contract says you can) and EMPLOYERS or MANAGERS shouldn’t make you feel that way either.

Employees have a life outside of work; that’s fine (and normal FYI). You cannot be the best version of yourself if you’re tired, demotivated and burnt out. Go home. Eat. Exercise. See your family. Relax.

You need to remind yourself that it’s more important to WORK BETTER than longer. Remember that there’s no way you can be creative, great at solving problems, and generally awesome at your role if you’re overworked and exhausted. The QUALITY of the work produced is more important than the amount of time you spend at your desk.