Managing Director of Direct Law and Personnel (DLP), Judith Fiddler has agreed with some of the findings of an NHS study into work related stress, but has warned that managers must be flexible in their approach to the issue.
The report from key NHS advisors has highlighted the role of employers in combating stress and anxiety in the workplace which accounts for more than 13 million working days per year being lost in Britain. The cost of paying ill staff, loss of productivity and the cost of covering the illness is over £28 billion per year. The report advises managers to take simple measures such as giving positive feedback or extra days off as a reward, as well as longer term schemes such as training for managers and staff mentoring schemes.
DLP has close and trusted relationships dealing with staffing issues with hundreds of companies across the North West, so Judith is perfectly placed to notice the rise in workplace stress, and increase in stress related absenteeism.
She says, “Communication does appear to be the key issue as many employees crave a simple “thanks” or a pat on the back.”
However there are no short term solutions if the environment has long been a stressful one. “Some employees find that when managers of a number of years suddenly introduce gratitude after years of ambivalence, it can come across as patronising and worrying, and actually increase stress.”
She also warns against putting too much emphasis on a rewards based bonus system, saying, “Work place gifts or discretionary bonuses can lead to a culture of rivalry, bullying and recklessness, which can be disastrous as the banking crisis shows.”
“Changing the whole culture of a workplace is no easy task. The official promotion of this type of management through training courses and top down mentoring is undoubtedly a good thing. Effective feedback, communication and praise are the starting point of a content and productive workforce.”