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Stress at work?

2 Nov 2016 - Blog, Events

1 in 4 people in the UK having taken time off work due to stress, but blame it on something else

November 2nd was National Stress Awareness Day. With 1 in 4 people in the UK having taken time off work due to stress, but blaming it on something else[1], the movement to make workplace wellbeing a thing is apace.

People Insight supported the Citywork conference on October 31st, which examined the major issues that impact upon workforce wellbeing and productivity. We heard from some great speakers including:

  • Paul Farmer CBE, CEO of the charity Mind, and chair of the NHS England National Mental Health Taskforce
  • Sally Sourbron – UK HR Director: Salesforce
  • Paul Barrett, Head of Wellbeing – Bank Workers Charity
  • Our very own Dr George Margrove (with his PhD in Organisational Psychology focusing on Stress)


Key takeaways from the Citywork Conference


Developing a wellbeing strategy for your business must take into account the perspectives of a variety of stakeholders

Wellbeing, schmelbeing. Your buoyant, thriving employee, who takes everything in their stride, will have a very different perspective to the struggling employee who maybe feeling isolated, fearful and burnt out. Similarly you’ll need to communicate the difference your strategy will make to business leaders (in terms of productivity, employer brand and employee retention) and to line managers (how do I deal with my team?)
However your Wellbeing strategy should be for everyone – we’ll talk in more detail about how to develop one in a forthcoming blog article.

Creating a culture where stress and mental health issues are OK to talk about is key

Is there a macho or ‘crying is for wimps’ culture in your organisation or some teams? Until people feel it’s safe to talk, they’ll keep problems hidden and spiral downwards. Speakers talked about the impact disclosure from senior influencers can have in breaking down the barriers to helpful conversations.

Line managers may be ill equipped for a stress related conversation

Encouraging people to come forwards with stress related concerns is no good if they are met with a stiff upper lipped manager mumbling and dashing out of the office. Unless trained, line managers may feel terrified – am I responsible? What do I do? Is this a medical matter? What if I say the wrong thing?
Training should include how to spot the signs of stress, empathy, discretion, an understanding of what resources to sign post staff to, and when to escalate issues further.

People have very different abilities to cope with ‘stressful situations’ – resilience is trainable

People Insight’s Dr George Margrove led a session looking at stress and burnout. Whilst the organisation has a duty of care for their people, it is clear that what is a walk in the park for some, is very stressful for others – and helping individuals be able to manage their feelings and behaviours is beneficial in the workplace as well as in our personal lives. His session covered:


How to measure the risk of stress and burnout in your teams

This can be done via your employee engagement survey – with models such as the People Insight PEARL model of engagement covering general wellbeing. The PEARL survey can be turned into a full stress and wellbeing audit by adding specific stress and burnout indicies to the questionnaire.


How to support resilience in your teams

The People Insight resilience workshop helps teams and individuals:

    • • Understand the key impact of resilience on work and personal lives
    • • Understand the strategies that make a person more resilient
    • • Identify key personal strengths and development areas in their own resilience capabilities
        • Commit to goals to improve personal resilience

To find out more, have a look at Helping your people cope with stress and avoid burnout


Finally, some great resources were shared on wellbeing at work. Whilst some are London centric, there are some fantastic networks and movements to inspire!

City mental health alliance

This is me in the city

Business Healthy

Time to Change




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