Workplace stress can affect us all. Here, to mark National Stress Awareness Week, director Lee Steward looks at how to address the problem and create a better balance for staff.
“How’s it going?” we might ask a colleague.
“A bit stressed,” he is likely to reply, Because it’s normal to be stressed at work, isn’t it?
Work means pressure, deadlines, budgets, priorities. It’s rarely a plain sailing oasis of calm.
But actually, it’s not normal to feel constantly stressed, overworked and anxious. It’s downright unhealthy.
Some pressure at work can be motivating – even exciting. But when it becomes excessive it can lead to work-related stress and this can result in a pounding heart, palpitations, a dry mouth, headaches, odd aches and pains and depression.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 595,000 people in the UK reported work-related stress at a level they believed was making them ill in 2018 – that’s 40% of all work-related illness.
So, what can be done about this?
The main reasons given for work stress include work pressure, lack of support from managers and work-related bullying.
And to tackle this managers need to be recognising and rewarding success, monitoring workloads and maintaining an open-door policy so it’s not difficult for employees to speak out.
Here at Morrison Freight we also believe in making sure staff have a healthy work life balance.
Many employees have children and are offered flexible working where appropriate for example.
We have also just invested in a corporate gym membership for all staff members at Attain and Sustain in Great Blakenham to help with their mental and physical wellbeing.
On top of this, we believe in the benefits of team building so organise a range of events that help people understand how they can better support each other, and we mark team celebrations with celebratory breakfasts and fun days out – such as go karting.
What’s more, we don’t just delegate from the top down.
Both Darren and I are very hands-on in the business and do a lot of manual work ourselves. After all, if we are not prepared to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in, we can’t possibly understand the day-to-day stresses of our staff.
We also invest in regular staff training to make sure multiple people in the business are trained in different tasks so that they can all help each other out.
We strongly believe that happy staff equal happy customers so invest in employees. As a result, they feel valued. They then stay with the business to develop their careers and get further training.
This then leads to better service for customers and boosts loyalty. That translates into sustainable business growth which is realised with increased profit – which gets reinvested back into the staff.
None of this would work if we had stressed staff.
The much-used motto of the working populace is: ‘I don’t live to work; I work to live’. But that doesn’t add up either.
Surely, in order to live life to the full, you must love your work too. That’s certainly what we want for our staff and we believe we are successfully creating careers here which are balanced and enjoyable.