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International Stress Awareness Week Is Coming
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International Stress Awareness Week Is Coming

Yearly event to kick off next week.

Now in its second year, International Stress Awareness Week will run from 4th to 8th November 2019. During this week, the International Stress Management Association (ISMA) will hold a series of campaigns and events, including its annual conference, to raise awareness of workplace and personal stress and its effects on mental health.

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Before 2018, ISMA had held an annual National Stress Awareness Day, which started in 1998, but last year it was spun out into a whole week. As well as a Stress Fair to kick off the week, there was an all-day online stress summit and a stress bot chat line. At the 2018 conference, there were presentations, workshops and more, involving various thought leaders in stress management.

As well as all that, this time around the overarching theme is ‘Resilience: the power to succeed!’ As the name suggests, this is all about being able to stand up to challenges and to bounce back from setbacks, not just at work but also in our personal lives.

Apart from ISMA’s own events, there will be additional workshops and presentations held throughout the country by ISMA members. Those who want to get involved, whether they’re members or not, are urged to contact Carole Spiers at info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk.

ISMA offers a stress management training pack, consisting of a presenter workbook, a delegate workbook, a PowerPoint slide, media guidance and a stress tips booklet. This will enable you to easily launch a stress management programme in your own business. The pack costs £75 for members and £125 for non-members.

stressed out guy

We haven’t seen this content, so we can’t recommend it or comment on its quality. It is, however, worth checking out the free what’s-on guide, which provides a brief overview of ISMA’s activities for the week.

Whether or not you decide to get involved with ISMA’s official events or become one of its members, it doesn’t do any harm to recognise the importance of managing workers’ stress levels.  Last year, an estimated 15.4 million working days were lost to work-related stress, anxiety or depression, according to a report issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The leading causes for workplace stress were found to be workload pressures, tight deadlines and lack of support from management.

As well as being to the detriment of workers, both long and short term, if stress is not managed appropriately, businesses will also suffer, as productivity drops and valuable man hours are lost.row of happy people in suits

How To Manage Stress In Your Business

So how can you manage your stress levels, while helping employees to do the same? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Flexible hours and remote working: Allowing employees to work in a way that suits them shows trust in them and raises morale. In many cases, it actually results in an increase in productivity as well.
  • Company social events: Most people don’t like organised fun, but social events can improve cohesion. However, respect those who do not want to or cannot attend these events. Passing such people over for promotions and so on can lead to resentment.
  • Wellness programmes and activities: Offering gym membership discounts, yoga sessions and so on can help everyone feel better physically, which will likely have a positive effect on their mental well-being as well.
  • Office improvements: No one wants to work in a dingy backroom with no windows, which is too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. Sprucing up your working environment can make a huge difference to everyone’s happiness.
  • Workplace counselling: Whether it’s provided by an in-house counsellor or an external party, having someone to talk to can be invaluable for staff.
  • Awards and recognition: Yearly awards and employee of the month programmes can be helpful, but they can also breed resentment. However, consider rewarding your entire organisation, even it’s with nothing more than a box of chocolates. This shows everyone they’re part of something bigger and that success is shared.
  • Workload management: Humans aren’t robots, and everyone has different capacities for work. Just because you can do five reports in a hour, that doesn’t mean other people can or should be able to do the same. Recognising this, while also showing employees how to best organise their workloads can pay dividends.
  • Communication: Listen to what your co-workers and employees are saying to you – including with non-verbal language. Show that you are willing to listen and that you regard their work as valuable.
  • Fairness: It’s a sad fact of life that employee disciplinary proceedings have to exist, to protect against negligence and misconduct. But such action should always be proportionate and fair. Raising your voice, patronising and chastising staff over small errors is counter-productive and can have long-term detrimental effects on trust, as well their happiness and mental health. 

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