Home Business & Industry Breaking the Sicknote Cycle: Stress Prevention and Intervention for SMEs

Breaking the Sicknote Cycle: Stress Prevention and Intervention for SMEs

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A recent survey showing stress as the second highest consideration for people quitting their jobs should be a wake-up call for business, according to stress prevention specialist Paula Ruane. The research, published by employee benefits provider Unum UK, placed stress in second place, just 1% behind salary, as the main reason why people quit their jobs.

Work-related stress cost the UK economy £17.1 million in 2023 due to stress, anxiety, and depression-related sick leave. These figures, in the face of the current sicknote crisis, make for grim reading. 

Paula Ruane said: “The figures in the Unum UK research make for stark reading. But there is a solution that businesses can implement to help employees manage their stress levels and work-life balance, as well as attract the best talent.” Paula continued, “Implementing a stress prevention strategy will provide the support that they need to thrive, as well as improving productivity for the business, so it’s a win-win for employees and the firms that they work for.”

Implementing a simple 10-point stress prevention strategy in a business can deliver a fundamental change in the way that businesses understand and engage with their employees. 

  • Stress Prevention and a 10-Point Strategy for the Workplace
  • Promote Work-Life Balance
  • Foster Open Communication
  • Set Clear Expectations
  • Provide Stress Management Resources
  • Encourage Positive Time Management
  • Promote Physical Activity
  • Create a Positive Work Environment
  • Encourage Positive Practices to prepare for difficult situations
  • Implement Flexibility
  • Lead by Example

Paula Ruane said: “Strategies like this can deliver a fundamental change in a business, where employees feel valued, understood, and supported during their working lives while ensuring that their work-life balance is positive. The benefits to the business are; reduced staff turnover, improved productivity, and the most talented people seeking opportunities in the business.” Paula continued, “It is crucial that stress prevention strategies are set up properly, so upskilling directors and senior managers is also critical to success.”

The interventions that will help to deliver a stress prevention strategy are:

  • Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)
  • Training and Education of Directors and Senior Managers
  • Managerial Support and Coaching 

The Unum UK research goes on to report that less than half (49%) of employees agreed that their employer has the necessary practices and services in place to support employee mental health. The research also reported that 57% of respondents reported that the introduction of health and wellbeing schemes would positively influence their decision to remain with their current employer.

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