There’s no shortage of reports highlighting the growing problems of stress, and its costs to the UK economy – 9.9 million working days lost every year, according to the Labour Force survey. Add in the reduced productivity and morale, increased conflict and resistance to change, and the extra stress placed on colleagues if someone goes off (or even just off form)….. It makes a pretty compelling case for doing something about it. But are we?
It’s not that organisations are ignoring it. Many provide confidential counselling helplines, but according to the CIPD, although 37% of organisations offer stress counselling for short term absence, only 3% include it in their top 3 most effective strategies.
Just under half the organisations surveyed report that operational demands tend to take precedence over well-being considerations. It’s easy to let things slip as the pressures of work start to get in the way. So isn’t there more we can do to prevent the stress from building up in the first place? Well, as an employer, that’s where things can start to get complicated.
There’s only so much organisations can change. Even with flexible hours and options to work from home, the work still has to be done. When the stress originates elsewhere, there may be little an employer can do, and relationships outside work was quoted as the second biggest source of stress, after workload.
With available training time and budget always limited, there’s a need to generate tangible return on investment from training – notoriously difficult to demonstrate for softer skills like resilience and uncertainty tolerance.
And there’s another big drawback, fundamental to human nature, which even the best training can’t always overcome. We don’t always do what we know is good for us. We all know that salads are better for us than fries, but do we always make the healthy choices? Five a day, ten thousand steps, taking a regular eye break when you’re working at a computer…. Simple guidelines for staying healthy, but how many people follow them? And if we’re just as lax at looking after our inner wellbeing, then training us to be mindful, to breathe more fully, or make time for ourselves is surely just destined for that heap of good intentions in the corner….
But we all have stresses and challenges which we take smoothly in our stride. We all have the skills to be OK. What if those skills showed up more often, if we became more aware of what’s already working, and how to do more of it? If it happened all by itself, without us having to remember, or to practice. That’s what FAST Pathways is designed to achieve.
Making us better able to harness the good stresses – the ones which make us rise to the challenge, or build stronger collaborations. Increasing the ability to stay calm and look at the situation objectively, without feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes described as ‘Process Engineering for the thinking’, these skills are powerful.
What difference would less stress make to your organisation?