How to help your staff cope with the demands of work

Sometimes work can be demanding. Whether it’s due to tight deadlines, staff turnover, or new projects, we can often find ourselves working longer hours, or with less support than we would like. This can lead to staff feeling overwhelmed, underappreciated, and eventually burning out.

How well we can cope with the changing demands of our work has a big impact on our overall wellbeing. If we can’t cope with work, we feel stressed. This leads to less productivity, which can add to our stress levels.

Some businesses have adopted a culture where staff feel like they can’t voice concerns, and simply have to deal with stress as best they can.

This is unsustainable, and managers can and should be playing an active role in helping their staff cope with the daily demands of work.

As we look to return to the workplace, it’s likely that many staff members will hold some anxieties about work, their schedules, priorities, and level of support they can expect from their managers.

The business case for supporting staff deal with work

Poor mental health among UK staff cost businesses over £42 billion each year. Whether it’s through absenteeism, high turnover, or presenteeism, where employees work longer hours and through breaks to prove their dedication to the business, UK staff are burning out at a higher rate than ever before.

The Mind Workplace Wellbeing Index survey shows that the number of employees who come into work while struggling with their mental health is 14 times higher than those who take time off for it.

Good managers don’t just head up projects and develop the business, they also look after their team, and ensure they have everything they need to do great work. If your staff are having difficulties, you can step in and set things right. This improves team morale, overall productivity, and can help reduce staff turnover.

Supporting staff deal with the demands of work shows them that either things have changed for the better after time away from the office, or that you’re as committed as ever to keeping high standards when it comes to your team’s wellbeing.

5 ways to help your staff thrive at work:

Set up regular check ins with your team

One of the best ways to help your team cope with the demands of work is to help them feel adequately supported. While much of this will come to workload, policies, and how the business is run in general, going the extra mile by being there for your team on a personal level can really help make them feel supported and valued.

If a staff member feels like they’re on their own, that can be incredibly isolating, especially if they’re working remotely. Some managers are only available at certain times, forcing staff to reach out to them. If you want to help your staff, check in with them, so they know they can always come to you with questions or concerns.

By allowing them regular time each week or month to talk about their work, you can actively help them remove roadblocks, encourage new approaches, and ensure they know they’re being listened to.

Of course, you shouldn’t just rely on scheduled check-ins, actively ask your staff how they’re doing, how’re they’re handling their workload, and if there’s anything you can help with.

Really listen to them when they answer.

This helps build a personal connection that is all too often sadly lacking in our professional relationships. Just knowing that you’re available for a chat can help your team feel more supported.

Recognise the work your team does, and shout about it

When you work with a group of people every day, it can be easy to take them and the work they do for granted. When a team’s work isn’t appreciated, they can quickly run out of steam. As a manager, just a word or two can make a difference and keep motivation levels high.

If your team is going through a tough time, with a difficult project or more demands than usual, remember to encourage them, instead of just focusing on how much work there is to do.

If your team has done well, celebrate their successes, and take the time to praise the great work specific people are doing so they know their work is seen, valued, and appreciated.

Different people are motivated by different things, but everyone enjoys being told they’re doing a good job. Often just knowing that helps boost confidence, and makes work seem less daunting.

Lead by example

This goes without saying, but at some point during the pandemic, everyone has had issues with work, and their mental health. Whether through calls, on social media, or in person, more and more of us are sharing our difficult experiences with each other, and that helps us feel less alone.

This can have a big impact when done at work. Currently only 49% of staff feel comfortable talking to their line manager about their mental health. When managers are honest about their struggles with their staff, it lets them know they’re able to do the same. You don’t necessarily have to go into detail, but just sharing how you’re feeling can cultivate trust on a personal level.

Communicate with your team, and make sure they know they can come to you with any issues they’re having. You don’t need to take on everyone’s issues yourself, there are organisations and resources you can signpost to, ensuring your staff get the support they need.

Beyond this, show your staff that you’re prioritising your own mental health by taking lunch breaks, and turning off your emails after work and on holiday. These behaviours show your team that you take time for yourself, and that they can too.

Give your team more control over their schedules

Schedules change, deadlines move up, new projects come in. This is something we will always have to deal with, but after the last year, flexibility is more important than ever before.

To an extent, it’s now expected that businesses are understanding when it comes to employees trying to balance their professional and personal lives.

One of the best ways to set your team up for success is to give them more control over their time. If your business offers flexible working, encourage your staff to take advantage of it. Promote it yourself by using it when you need to.

Trusting them to handle their tasks in their own time allows them to feel more in control, rather than working to a timeline they have no say in that makes their lives more difficult than they need to be.

Invest in your team for long-term success

If you can, set aside budget for training or personal development. Allowing your team time to learn new skills or improve existing ones shows them you want them to succeed, learn, and grow.

Beyond traditional professional skills, consider investing in proactive and preventative mental health training. This allows your organisation to help reduce stigma, improve resilience, and help your staff deal with work in ways that are positive, healthy, and sustainable.

A study by Deloitte and Mind found that for every £1 spent on mental health training, £5 is returned in increased productivity and overall staff wellbeing.

If you want to help your staff deal with work when you’re back in the office, check out our return to the workplace series.


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Posted on: 19th August 2021