Working in a small business can be stressful. I am sure you do not need me to tell you that. Being concerned about stress and caring for the team is not a luxury reserved exclusively for large organisations with appropriate job titles and budgets. It impacts all of us and is becoming too common.
In a brief survey of people I know who both work in and who are the owners of small businesses the top 4 causes of stress came out as follows -
● Money - most notably cash flow but also the wages paid by some small business owners
● Multi Tasking - In a small business it’s quite normal to not have a specialism and definitive job title. There are too many roles and not enough people.
● The Boss - in a small business the mood of the boss infects everyone good or bad.
● Fast changing work flows - It’s a challenge to plan workflow and so many businesses find themselves running flat out with all hands to the pump for what they hope will be a short period but is not always so.
This matches up with larger more scientific surveys such as the National Labour Force Survey (2011/2012). This said that the top 3 self reported sources of stress were
Workload (inc. tight deadlines, too much work, pressure or responsibility approx 186000 cases)
Lack of managerial support (approx 61000 cases)
For those of you that like stats here’s a few more -
● Stress accounted for 35% of all work related ill health cases and 43% of all working days lost due to ill health. – HSE 2014/15 - Stress is becoming the new “bad back.”
● The average number of days lost per case of stress was 23 HSE 2014/15
That last number is impactful for a small business.Imagine losing a team member for 23 days in a row. What impact would that have for you?
Businesses of any size have a responsibility towards health and safety of their employees and it is clear through the number of conversations we are having these days with Health and Safety experts that stress is moving up the agenda.
So what can you do?
Be on the look out for the telltale signs that an employee is suffering with stress. Bearing in mind that their source of stress may not be work but it may be their work and your bottom line that will suffer. Watch out for -
● Changes in personality- may be a normally gregarious team member becomes withdrawn.
● Continually tired and complaining that they do not sleep
● Reduced levels of concentration
● Previously reliable team member becomes unreliable.
There are many more signs but these are consistently the significant ones
Be Aware of the environment you create or allow to be
The Health & Safety Executive has a pragmatic way of auditing the environment and suggests you consider the following factors -
I am clearly of the view that managing stress is not all the responsibility of the employer. In fact I think most of the responsibility rests with the individual. Where I do think the employer has a responsibility is the environment they create and the tools they give the employee to deal with stress.
Of course if you want to give them the tools to develop a healthy relationship with stress you could always call Calm People (I would say that wouldn’t I?)
So Stress…it’s part of the deal right?? ………It doesn’t have to be.
How do you support your employees in stressful situations and what benefits do you see?
About the Author
With more than 20 years experience working in challenging corporate environments and dealing with change programmes, and having trained with the British Association of Anger Management Julian Hall of Calm People knows a thing or two about stress.
Calm People are Emotional Resilience experts and spend their time supporting businesses nationally and internationally in supporting their staff.
Clients range from growing SME businesses with 10 staff up to FTSE 100 clients such as Bunzl, Morrisons and Virgin Media
If you would like a confidential chat about stress in your organisation and how Calm People can help call Julian on 01332 344199 www.calmpeople.couk