3 min read | 6 July, 2015 By RSM
How often do we hear, ‘I am so stressed!’ during a day in the office? Probably fairly often I’d imagine! But what do we actually mean when we say this? Do we mean, ‘I have a lot to do today and not enough time’ or, ‘I can’t carry on, I need a break, I’m cracking.’ If it’s the first, this is a fairly normal hurdle to face in the workplace, however if it’s the second, this may need to be treated with more caution. Either way, both of these statements are a cry for help and a clear sign that your employees are stressed.
Despite having physical symptoms, stress is predominantly a mental state so naturally attracts some criticism in terms of its validity as an illness or reason for being away from work. This is evident in a recent study showing that 51% of UK workers would feel uncomfortable admitting to their employees they need time off due to stress. With a typical stiff upper lip, we all soldier on instead of stopping, listening to our mind and our bodies and knowing when we need to call a time out. This can mean that the signs your employees are stressed can be hard to spot at first.
How then, as a manager, can you recognise if your staff are suffering from stress and pick up on those tell-tale signs that your employees are stressed, especially if they are unwilling to discuss openly? These are the 5 tell-tale signs to look out for:
Fatigue. We all have tired days but if somebody is coming to work looking consistently over tired it may be worth a conversation, especially if you notice this is effecting their productivity and attention to detail.
Short temper. Not being able to control your temper is a red flag where stress is concerned. Any sudden out bursts or losing control with inanimate objects are signs someone is beginning to crack and this should be addressed urgently.
Displays of emotion. Some people are naturally more emotional than others and will freely display their emotion. These people may not be of immediate concern, but if you have an employee who typically doesn’t show a wide range of emotion suddenly often becoming angry or upset, they could be struggling.
A change in typical behaviours. Knowing your staff is key here. Perhaps you have a typically sociable employee who is withdrawing or a colleague who usually eats substantial meals skipping lunch and working through. Noticeable changes in behaviour are a sign that something may not be right.
Change in appearance. Tread carefully with this one! But when people are stressed, they are usually dealing with a multitude of problems inside and outside of work and sometimes this means paying less attention to themselves, showing in their general appearance. Again, knowing your staff and how they usually present themselves is important here.
If you have noticed any of these signs that your employees are stressed then there may be something there that needs addressing. You can start with our quick quide on 10 ways to help you stress less at work which might help them overcome some of the little niggles that are getting to them at work. If the stresses are continuing to manifest themselves its important that there are lines of communication in place, and the employee knows what these are, so that they feel comfortable expressing how they are feeling and that it is going to be supported.