A recent study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) and Simply Health, has found that nearly two-fifths of UK businesses have seen an increase in stress related absence over the last year.

Organised by the Stress Management Society, April is stress awareness month. With the mission of changing the public perception of stress, and to increase the publics knowledge on the harm stress can induct.

It is important to ensure there is a communication to reduce the stigmas surrounding stress, by making employees feel comfortable and able to discuss issues before they become a problem. By ensuring that managers are appropriately trained in recognising the signs of stress and depression, as well as knowing how to handle by encouraging a culture of support. Let employees know what support is available, if appropriate within the company benefits package or occupational health. Make sure employees know that the company cares about their wellbeing.

One way of reducing work place stress is by possibly introducing flexible working. If you notice that an employee is taking frequent short absences, take this seriously and ensure that a return work form and interview is complete. Introducing absence management technology can help manage this and will help employers spot signs quickly. It is also important to make sure all employees take their holiday entitlement, and by using this technology it is easy to monitor if this is being done.

The CIPD is calling for senior leaders to prioritise wellness at work, to increase their investment in health and well-being by training managers, so they are confident and able to support staff.

Adrian Lewis said: “Investing in technology such as absence management software can help as it can enable managers to track absence and flag up warning signs that someone may be suffering from stress, anxiety or depression. This may be people taking more days off that usual or regularly being off after the weekend or they may be behaving differently at work.

“If managers can spot issues and evidence this using data when handling return to work interviews, it is far easier for them to initiate conversations about stress and offer support whether that is EAPs or counselling. During these conversations, managers can probe and find out if there are other issues at stake. Is there a culture of long working hours? Are people managing their workloads? If they can uncover these issues, they can make necessary changes and improvements.

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