Stress Awareness Month UK: destress your workplace

Man squished into a corner with sticky notes covering his face and body saying things like 'Take a break', 'Off line' and 'Stop!'. Image by Luis Villasmil via Unsplash. Thanks Luis.

The importance of Stress Awareness Month UK

Heads up! Every April, Stress Awareness Month rolls around across the UK. It’s been happening since way back in 1992, with the goal of getting people to open up about stress and find effective ways to manage it – especially in the workplace.

Origins & theme

This whole thing originated right here in the UK before making its way to the US, where they observe it in November. But this year’s theme, “Little By Little,” really hits the nail on the head. 

It’s all about those small, consistent efforts towards better wellbeing that can add up to massive positive changes – something we’re big advocates for here at Wotter.

The toll of workplace stress

We all know work stress is no joke. It’s not just employees feeling overwhelmed and anxious, though that’s bad enough. Prolonged job stress can contribute to serious physical and mental health issues like depression, insomnia, heart disease…the list goes on. 

But it impacts more than just individual wellbeing – it can sabotage productivity, damage workplace relationships, and spike absenteeism and employee turnover. Unmotivated, stressed-out teams are a recipe for disaster.

How most companies approach Stress Awareness Month

Most companies might tackle Stress Awareness Month by:

  • Teaming up with mental health experts to share info about workplace stress with employees
  • Running mindfulness training sessions
  • Setting up counselling resources

All of these are great ideas and can work well to reduce stress. BUT, there’s a better way to tailor stress reduction to your business.

A better way to reduce stress

Get stuck in by:

From there, you’ll have a roadmap to reducing stress not just during the first few weeks of April, but year-round, every year.

Building a supportive culture

More than anything, you want to foster an open, supportive culture where mental health is prioritised.

Encourage self-care by making sure your policies enable work-life balance and employees feel safe to set boundaries. Things to consider:

  • Do parents have the flexibility to pick up their kids from school?
  • Are employees comfortable talking about mental health?
  • If your business had a mantra around self-care, what would it be?

Access to mental health resources is of course helpful, and inviting feedback around stressors is vital.

A judgement-free zone for employees to blow off steam and find solutions is key.

Lead by example

As a leader, you’ve got to walk the walk. Companies typically take on the personality of their leaders – so if you’re a burnt out CEO who never takes holiday, or a manager who eats lunch with one hand and types with the other, you’ll likely see employees emulating this behaviour and winding up in stressville (population: all of you).

Just as negativity will trickle down an organisation, so too will healthy coping mechanisms like taking proper breaks, talking about stressors, and prioritising mental health. No matter how many times you tell employees these things are important, they’re unlikely to believe it until they get your full endorsement.

The bottom line

Lowering workplace stress is a win-win for everyone.

By using this month to acknowledge the detrimental effects of stress and actively implement solutions as a team, you can boost resilience, cultivate a happier and more engaged workforce, and seriously improve productivity and retention.

But whether you focus on lowering stress short-term or as an ongoing part of your people strategy – that’s up to you.


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