Having a Voice Within the Workplace

As a part of Mental Health Awareness Week (8 – 12 May 2017), we teamed up with the experts at Working for Wellbeing to launch the “Having a Voice” campaign. The campaign aimed to discover how stress in the workplace can affect employees and what businesses can do to help alleviate this issue.

The number of reports of work related stress is on the up, with 488,000 cases of depression or anxiety in 2015/2016, so how can employers in Essex ensure that their staff are getting the support they need? And how can employees have a voice in the workplace if they are feeling stressed or under pressure?

Francis McGinty and Jerry Thornton founded Essex based Working for Wellbeing in October 2012 to assist nationwide organisations in recognising and alleviating pressure within the workplace. With a worrying 11.7 million working days lost due to stress in 2015/16, this is a nationwide issue which is also directly affecting Essex businesses.

Francis comments, “It is the responsibility of both the employer and the employee to address the issue. Every employer of five or more must identify risk areas that could affect both the physical and mental health of its employees. Risks identified must then have a policy in managing risk. The employee also has a responsibility to report pressure that may cause them harm at the earliest time.”

Ill mental health is the primary reason for absenteeism, which costs the UK economy £104 billion per year, and with stress accounting for £30 billion of this. Employers should be aware of bullying, behavioural change and absence levels within the workplace to ensure its employees are not under unacceptable burdens.

Working for Wellbeing highlights that ‘culture’ is one of the biggest issues when it comes to stress at work: “Is the management autocratic or democratic? Ultimately, it can be the employers who lack the will or knowledge to tackle the subject of stress with time and money in implementing an effective policy. They’re unaware that with a small investment they could see amazing financial and social rewards.”

Since being established in 2006, the happiness of staff has been a key focus for us here at Voice Communications. Whether this is through monthly coaching sessions, regular surprises at work or annual and quarterly appraisals, it is imperative that all staff feel seen, heard and valued in order for the business to grow. A happy workplace is paramount to creating productive and engaged teams.

Nichola Cain, our Managing Director commented: “As an employer, I know that the wellbeing of my team directly impacts the productivity and quality of work we are able to provide as a business. Each and every member of staff has different needs, therefore it is important to engage with the team on different levels.”

She continues, “There are many different ways that businesses can ensure that stress is managed correctly. It is important to ensure that staff have one-on-one time with the management team, giving them the opportunity to have a voice within the workplace. For example, this can be achieved through monthly mentoring sessions which provide a platform to ask questions, seek advice and speak through problems. It’s also important to remember that not all stress originates in the workplace. HR teams and employers need to explore if there are any additional issues that need to be addressed, and take time to fully understand and appreciate how staff members are feeling.”

To be an ‘Employer of Choice’ businesses should look at the following pressure areas and ensure that their employees have a voice in the workplace.

1. Role – does the employee have a clear understanding of theirs?
2. Responsibility – do they have the power and resources to deliver?
3. Change – does the employee have any influence over the organsation’s need to change?
4. Control – do they have any over working practices?
5. Support – is it available without stigma from colleagues and management?
6. Demands – Is the workload too demanding for the individual’s resources
7. Working Culture – Is the environment one where the above conditions thrive?

If not, these are the conditions for stress levels to soar resulting in illness, absence, poor performance and low morale at work.

Now is the time to tackle stress and mental health problems at work in order to enable companies and their valuable workforce to continue to thrive and grow.

Find out more at www.mentalhealth.org.uk, www.workingforwellbeing.co.uk and with our “Having a Voice” campaign on social media.

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