Workplaces are killing us but change is possible, says Lizzie Benton.
A Labour Force Survey* found that 12.8 million working days are lost due to stress, with one person in five suffering from work-related stress.
Stress plays a major role in long-term health conditions. An increase in stress can cause heart conditions, obesity, fibromyalgia and IBS. It can even cause death, eventually, and makes our lives a constant struggle. Many workplaces are slowly killing us. We can change this by focusing on four key areas.
- Company cultures: According to the Labour Force Survey, 44 per cent of workplace stress is triggered by a high workload. But many people don’t speak out for fear of being seen as lazy or unproductive. Not being able to speak out signals an unsupportive company culture.
- Not leading by example: Leaders forget how vital their role is in setting attitudes and behaviours for their team. Stress can often become a badge of honour in many workplaces. This has to stop.
- Holistic wellbeing strategies: Rarely do companies look at a completely holistic approach to their team’s wellbeing. Stress stems from many areas – physical, mental and financial – and can affect our work. Organisations should be discussing the triggers for employee stress and how they can support their people.
- Work-life balance: Juggling the responsibilities and expectations of all our life roles – worker, parent, partner, child – takes a toll on our wellbeing. Unfortunately, our society still expects parents to work like they have no children, and provide care to their children as if they have no job.
We should create workplaces that support anyone with responsibilities, regardless of whether we are parents, carers to elderly relatives, or supporting others in our lives. The days of separating work and life are over, so companies must build workplaces that offer employees the flexibility and sustain and fulfil their lives.
Lizzie Benton is founder and culture consultant at Liberty Mind Ltd