In our latest Business Insights we reached out to other business owners with advice they could provide our readers especially when it comes to running a business.
Darren Hockley is MD of health and safety e-learning provider DeltaNet International, who offer a range of online courses for all business sizes across a variety of issues, including stress management techniques small businesses should integrate.
In this article he talks us through some stress management techniques that small businesses should be integrating into their working environment.
SMEs are particularly at risk of employee turnover because of this issue: recent research showed nearly half of workers in small businesses had changed jobs due to stress and frustration with their role. Good stress management isn’t only the right thing to do for your employees’ wellbeing – it makes good business sense too.
Talk about it
As with many mental health-related topics, stress can be a taboo subject that people sometimes feel uncomfortable raising with their managers or colleagues. They might be nervous about being seen as unable to cope with pressure or otherwise less capable.
Changing this culture needs to begin from the very top. Business owners and managers need to make it clear they take stress seriously, and by extension their workers’ mental health and wellbeing. When people can flag issues before they grow out of control, they’re less likely to need time away from work or leave their jobs because of stress. Stress management training can prepare line managers to look out for the signs of stress in their team, and educate employees to recognise and handle their own workplace stress.
In small companies, it’s often the case that employees have wide-ranging responsibilities and must “wear many hats” in their day to day work. Left unchecked, this can lead to long hours, skipping breaks and feeling like they always have to be contactable, even during days off.
Workers are happier and more productive when they’re well-rested and have plenty of time to pursue their family time, social lives and hobbies. Productivity and creativity are both clearly affected when people trust their employer to respect their time away from work. All employees should also be actively encouraged to take the breaks they’re entitled to during the work day, as this means they’re less likely to become stressed, burnt out or dissatisfied with their jobs.
Listen to employees
Smaller companies sometimes feel like they can’t compete with larger companies when it comes to employee wellbeing initiatives.
Stress-relieving work schemes, however, don’t need to break the bank. The most effective ones are targeted towards the specific needs of their employees, and this is arguably easier for companies with fewer employees. The best way to find out what employees need to look after their wellbeing is simply to ask them. Perhaps greater flexibility in hours would work for one person, and discounted membership to a local gym would work for another.
This should also be seen as an investment. For lower employee turnover and absence rates, any attempt to lower the burden of stress on a company’s staff will be almost guaranteed to pay for itself.