Once the hiring is done and the paperwork sorted, a key responsibility of any HR professional is to stay tuned to the emotional pulse of the organisation. The more emotionally healthy and satisfied employees are, the higher will be their engagement with the work at hand. Conversely, a dissatisfied or stressed workforce is more likely to suffer from unproductivity and employee attrition.
Here are some key stress markers that can help an organisation identify when employees are buckling under stress:
The Way we Behave
When stress becomes too much to handle, it can often show up in a person’s overt behaviour. If an employee displays anxious, high-strung behaviour or never seems to be able to relax, there might be a cause for concern. The anxiety could be related to a number of issues as an inability to handle work pressure, stress about completing work tasks, low self-confidence or even something happening in his or her personal life. At work, it can severely affect work performance and in some cases, also lead to panic attacks. Similarly, if an employee is prone to frequent bouts of anger or is generally in an irritable or bad mood, there might be trouble brewing underneath the surface. If not addressed, the person is likely to spoil the work environment and disrupt the productivity of colleagues around him or her.
What happens during break time
Stress can make us crave for immediate comfort. Therefore, if you see an employee resorting to excessive eating (especially junk food) or taking frequent smoking breaks, he or she is likely experiencing high stress. Other signs to watch out for are people skipping meals altogether or napping at their desks because stress can also upset our natural eating and sleeping patterns.
If a co-worker looks distracted most of the time and is making careless errors at work, it might be time pay attention. That’s because when we are experiencing stress, we tend to employ all our mental resources to deal with that stress. We ruminate about it, we look for ways to push it away and we even distract ourselves with fantasies of a place where there is no stress. This leaves very little mind space for us to use for actual productive work. So if you notice someone displaying a sudden drop in productivity and/or reduced concentration at work, stress could be behind the change.
Chronic stress can lower our immunity, making us more susceptible to illnesses. Therefore, stress can show up in the body as physical health problems. Keep an eye out for employees who fall ill often, take too many sick days off or leave early from work frequently. This can lead to severe health problems, significantly affecting a person’s work and personal life.
Catching the early signs of stress in your workforce can prevent unnecessary loss of productivity and can be the first step towards building an emotionally healthy organisation.