Managing stress-related absence at work

A recent survey has found that 47% of employees working for small and medium sized businsses reported suffering from stress in the past 3 months.  This is concerning if we consider that, left unchecked, stress that continues over a period of time can longer-term issues such as burnout. Ultimately, this leads to absence and cost to the business.

How can you determine if an employee is stressed?

Employees can be fearful of admitting they feel stressed or being viewed as less than professional if they communicate how they’re feeling. A few stress-related symptoms to keep an eye out for:

  • Loss of interest in work
  • Reduced quality of work
  • Loss of sense of humour
  • Decreased communication
  • Increased sickness absence
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor time-keeping
  • Tiredness and irritability
  • Physical illness, e.g. nausea, headaches,

How to support your employees

If you have an employee off sick from work with stress, there are a number of steps to take take to aid recovery and ease them back into work.  Firstly, try to understand why the employee is stressed and should be done sensitively, in private and with compassion. Try to establish what it is that’s making them feel stressed and go beyond to minimise the causes for them.

Whilst it’s important to respect the employee’s wishes and give them the space they need to recover, a level of communication is also needed to ensure that both parties are in the loop. It’s a good idea to check in on the employee every now and then to see how they’re doing, gauge whether there’s anything else you can be doing to support them and get an idea of when they may be returning to work.

It’s also helpful for the employee to know of any updates that concern them within the business; this can help avoid a feeling of isolation during their leave and will also help prepare them for when they return.

Planning for the return to work

When the employee is ready to return to work, it’s important you put some time aside to catch up, welcome them back and support their return. It’s also a good opportunity to remind them of how much you value them as an employee and of their importance to the business.

If you need support to manage any absence issues in the workplace please contact us on 0800 9995 121

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