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Improving the coping abilities of staff can help both employees and employers through stressful economic times. Robert Manson, head of occupational health and wellbeing at Morrisons plc, explains how the retailer is implementing resilience programmes for its leaders.
The conditions that have the most adverse impact on employee health and engagement are mental, musculoskeletal and chronic health conditions, usually as a result of a combination of lifestyle risk factors. These conditions are usually interconnected, as experiencing stress often leads to poor diet, increased alcohol consumption and lack of exercise, resulting in obesity and a general deterioration of health and performance. However, what is changing is the variety of work demands and the effect on employees' health, engagement and work performance.
The burning platform
With the current economic situation showing only small signs of recovery, many organisations that have survived are showing signs of fatigue due to the constant pressures of increased competition, reduced sales, improving productivity and constant reorganisation to stay afloat. This has had a dramatic adverse effect on employee engagement and discretionary effort. The phrase "the lights are on but there is no one at home" is being heard more and more.
This has had an impact on employee health, with increased levels of stress experienced at work resulting in increased sickness absence. This is due mainly to increased job demands, role ambiguity and the need to do more with less.
In the 2013 absence management annual survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), two-fifths of organisations saw an increase in reported mental health problems (such as anxiety and depression) among employees