23 January 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Just under half of employees in UK small businesses have changed their jobs because of work-related frustrations and stresses that were not addressed by management, according to research.
A third of respondents also admit calling in sick because of work-related stress, according to Causes and Implications of Workplace Stress in SMEs, a report from software firm Process Bliss.
The main sources of SME workplace stress cited are having to chase colleagues for updates (33 per cent) and a lack of information or clarity when asked to do something (31 per cent).
Other sources of workplace stress are a lack of control over a situation (28 per cent), a lack of guidance/direction from the boss (26 per cent) and a lack of response to emails (25 per cent).
Alister Esam, CEO at Process Bliss, said: "Many of these issues come from people not being given sufficient training or a functioning process to follow that enables them to do their job well At the same time, managers are checking up on, and micro-managing staff because they have no way of seeing whether employees are following that process correctly. This harassment is stressful, contributing to a culture of mistrust and causing people working at SMEs to leave in significant numbers."
Esam added: "The biggest problems, a lack of clarity from management when asking for something to be done or a lack of guidance from the boss, simply should not be factors in workplace stress. They are easily avoidable by providing the right training or having functioning processes to work with."
As almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of respondents admit they are unclear about all of their company's processes, training and process management are clearly key issues for business managers to solve. The most common process failures were employee/new starter onboarding, procurement and credit checking, while HR disciplinary processes and customer onboarding are also cited. Such process failure is having a significant impact on the businesses too - 43 per cent say their company has lost customers because of failed processes.
Of those surveyed, 38 per cent of respondents think working for a small business was more stressful than working for a bigger firm, while 32 per cent admit they do not feel trusted in the workplace, suggesting there is much work still to do in addressing SME workplace stress.
Esam added: "Doing more to reduce stress in the workplace is hugely important and should be a key priority for SME bosses during 2019 - staff retention is vital Employees do their best work when they are motivated, engaged, trusted and work in a reduced-stress environment and leave a job when they are unhappy and demotivated. Workplace stress can come from many different sources and while no boss can eliminate stress completely, there are lots of measures that can be put in place to ensure day-to-day frustrations are reduced."
The Causes and Implications of Workplace Stress in SMEs report is available for download here.