This April has been National Stress Awareness Month. It’s great to have read about or seen so many initiatives underway, not least because the battle to increase awareness is still very much needed. According to the Mental Health Foundation, nearly three-quarters (74%) of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point in the last year that they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope, to the obvious detriment of their physical and mental health.
This is of course bad for business, so we took the opportunity to ask our certified Top Employers how they tackle the causes of stress in their workplaces. The results are reassuring. Top of the list of initiatives in the UK are dedicated stress (84%) and time management (84%) programmes. Top Employers also use more physical preventative measures, with health screening practiced by over 4 in 5 (81%). And for over 7 in 10 of them, this included promoting sport outside the office (72%) and company-wide sports challenges or competitions (71%).
What delighted us most, though, was the sheer variety of brilliant stress-busting initiatives on offer. On delving deeper into the numbers, we found great examples of Pilates, yoga and meditation sessions; massages, contemplation or quiet rooms; and mental health “first aiders”. One of the ideas we liked best was that from Phoenix Group and their onsite choir – “Phoenix Voices”. Singing, after all, is an aerobic activity that boosts your oxygen levels and can have psychological and mental health benefits as a good stress reliever, not to mention a sense of belonging and shared experience. More inspiration came from OVO Energy – which provides free breakfasts for all employees, every day of the week, because in their view (and ours) a good breakfast “starts the day right”.
When it comes to alleviating stress, there are so many different ways to help a workforce and it is great to see the diversity of ideas on offer. What is most encouraging though is that nearly three-quarters of our certified Top Employers (74%) now classify wellbeing as a key business imperative for their organisation. They know that what’s good for employees is nearly always good for business too. So as we near the end of National Stress Awareness Month we encourage all employers to turn this awareness into positive action.