Despite Stress Awareness Month having taken place every April since 1992, according to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of UK adults admit to having been so stressed in the past 12 months that they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. Stress is increasingly being viewed as a public health epidemic due to the damaging effect it has on both our physical and mental health and thousands of working days a year are lost to absence due to stress-related issues.
But, what can employers do to help counteract this and ensure a healthy, happy and productive workforce?
Here at Metis, we recognise that there is always work to do in reducing workplace stress, but we do pride ourselves on promoting working practices that encourage good work-life balance and positive mental health. Indeed, our MD Stephen Robertson even won the 2018 Innovation in the Workplace IOD Award as recognition for our efforts in creating a healthy & happy working environment.
Here are a few ways in which we try to ensure a happy, healthy workplace:
Flexible working environment
Whilst our core hours remain 9-5, Monday to Friday, we allow staff a degree of flexibility in the hours they do. We also allow staff to work from home one day a week. We operate on a basis of absolute trust – no keystroke monitoring for us – and have confidence that our employees will put the work in necessary to achieving our business aims.
Casual dress code
Where staff have no client meetings that day, we see no need for our team to restrict themselves to classic office-wear when going about their day-to-day work. We would rather our employees be comfortable (both physically and mentally) than smart and conformist.
Buddy system and mentoring
We want our employees to feel supported during their time with us which is why each new joiner is assigned a “buddy” from within the company. The buddy’s role is to ensure the wellbeing of their assigned employee and they periodically hold buddy meetings – usually in the local café over coffee and cake! We also have arrangements with external mentors for our more senior staff to support their personal and career development the best we can.
We offer all employees private healthcare, an extra day’s holiday on their birthday and free fruit in the office. We are also aiming to increase our out-of-work social activities – letting off steam and getting to know your colleagues better is a great way to reduce stress and boost team spirit.
So important, it is even one of our five Metis values – It’s serious business but it doesn’t have to be serious all the time. As well as a generally light-hearted office atmosphere, we like to take a break from work occasionally with a bit of fun. An example of this is our annual Charity Bake Off. Our Senior Valuations Manager Saj holds the title for most wins – clearly a man of many talents!
So, that’s a round-up of some of the ways we try to reduce workplace stress, but this is always a learning process. Is stress a priority focus for your business? What initiatives have you adopted for reducing stress?
Let’s hope that it won’t take another 20+ years of Stress Awareness Month for society to take notice of how harmful it really is.