As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, this is a good moment (as any) to point out that more organizations are encouraging open conversations about mental health at work. This transition is particularly noticeable because most of us, if not all, have had to adjust to unforeseen problems in our daily lives. Because adversities strike without warning, we can expect stress to accompany them. So, how do we reduce this unexpected stress in the work setting? A great first step is to acknowledge how it impacts our employees. Searching for the root causes of stress insinuates honest conversations and in finding evidence-based solutions in the work setting. On that note, let’s get into how stress affects our daily work life.
Stress can lead to shortcuts
Workers may assume they need to surpass necessary steps to ‘get the work done.’ Timothy C. Healey, director of safety at Hartford Steam Boiler says “Most of the time, the shortcut is because somebody has the perception that they’re in a hurry for something.” Why exactly do workers have this mindset? A variety of reasons, and many have to do with stress. Maybe they feel pressure from leaders, tight deadlines, and likely dealing with obstacles in their personal lives. If we want to avoid our workforce taking shortcuts, we need to find the root cause of why they are performing unsafe work habits.
Stress can encourage substance abuse
Ongoing changes to our personal and professional environments are inevitable. Layoffs, relationship troubles, and general burnout are common reasons for stress. What do we do to cope? How do we deal with uncertainty?
When we leave stress unaddressed, it can lead to worse outcomes. Some may turn to alcohol and drug use. The U.S. Department of Labour and National Institute on Drug Abuse found that employees who suffer from substance dependency are nearly three times more likely to experience injury-related absences from work.
Stress can reduce concentration
We have all likely experienced some form of worry and anxiety throughout the pandemic. Without a doubt, these seemingly minuscule anxieties have affected our concentration at work in some way or another. This sentiment could be as small as forgetting a task or as crucial as performing unsafe maneuvers. We can expect distractions every day. Moving forward, we need to consider proactive ways to find the problem, analyze, and strategize what we can do to improve concentration.
Stress can lead to workforce violence
How do you act when you are stressed out? Sometimes we hide this feeling, ask for advice, or in one of the most troublesome situations, we can act aggressively towards our peers. From a study conducted by The American Psychological Association, stress-based hormones effectively motivate destructive behaviours in social settings. Regulating stress responses does fall on the individual. Still, we see that leaders are doing more to help employees seek preventative measures before we get to this aggressive stage.
What leaders can do to help their workforce
Although we see the inclusion of mental health everywhere online, this is not always the reality. In fact, some can feel judged by their peers when they talk about their mental health. More specifically, 77% of people in the construction industry do not seek help because of their fear of being judged by others. Incorporating open discourse on site, say including mental health checks prior to safety minutes meetings can be key to building resilience within your employees. If we encourage people to talk about and prioritize their wellbeing, not only can we analyze root issues, but we can use this information to find solutions that they will realistically use.
Keen to learn more about an evidence-based platform that can reduce stress and upskill your workforce’s mental wellbeing?
Get to know how we can work with you to have preventative mental health solutions for your total workforce. Connect with one of our account executives today!