Stress is something everyone feels at times. Strange as it may seem, a little stress can be a good thing, as it helps us to get things done or focus on something that needs our attention. However, even though stress may seem an increasingly typical part of day-to-day life, when it spirals out of control and affects a person on a long-term basis, it can lead to serious consequences in terms of physical and mental health.
Work related stress on the rise
According to UK Government Agency, HSE (Health & Safety Executive) there were an estimated 914,000 cases of work-related stress in 2022*. An estimated 17 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression, or anxiety in 2022 – more than half of all working days lost due to work-related ill health. HSE has been warning of a growing crisis in stress and poor mental health related to work. Not only is it now a major cause of long-term absence from work, but stress can also place immense demands on employees’ physical and mental health and affect their behaviour, performance and relationships with colleagues.
HSE’s Chief Executive, Sarah Albion said, “Britain is one of the safest places in the world to work but we need all employers to do more and take seriously their responsibilities to support good mental health at work. That’s why improving mental health in the workplace is a key priority in our 10-year strategy ‘Protecting People and Places’, and why we’re developing new partnerships across industry to help employers support their employees.”
Raising Awareness of stress
Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 to raise the profile and spotlight the causes and cures for our modern-day stress epidemic. It is an opportunity for an open conversation on the impact of stress. The Stress Management Society champion dedicating time to removing the guilt, shame, and stigma around mental health. They advocate how important it is to talk about stress, and its effects and open up about our mental and emotional state with friends, families, colleagues, and professionals.
The Ultimate Approach – Putting our people first
Here at Ultimate Finance, we’re guided by our People Promise. It’s our commitment to our people to ensure we’re consistently making Ultimate Finance a progressive and rewarding place to work. A key part of that People Promise is our approach to health and wellbeing. With a dedicated wellbeing team working alongside our Mental Health First-Aiders, we’re fortunate to be able to run initiatives across our business to support and boost the mental health of our employees.
Throughout April we’ve been running a range of initiatives for Stress Awareness Month with the aim of raising awareness of stress, its causes and symptoms and providing practical, actionable ways to combat it. Here we want to share with you some of the lessons we’ve learnt and hopefully provide some tips for you to implement in your business to support the mental health of your employees and combat the effect of stress in the workplace.
The Ultimate Re-Power Hour
To mark Stress Awareness Month, invites went into everyone’s calendars blocking out the hour of 12pm-1pm for the whole of April. This time is intended to give our employees a chance to focus on getting away from their desks, spending some time outside, getting some exercise or simply giving themselves a break.
Office Relaxation Spaces
We also introduced relaxation spaces in our offices across the country. Featuring relaxing music and visuals as well as scent diffusers to create a calming and relaxing atmosphere, these spaces have been open throughout April and provide an ideal space for our employees to take a few minutes to themselves.
At Ultimate Finance, we know just how important talking to people is when it comes to reducing stress and positive mental health in general. Our #CoffeeRoulette initiative sees employees randomly grouped together in virtual breakout rooms of 4. This gives our employees the chance not only to meet someone new from around the business, but also to have a good old-fashioned catch up over a cup of something hot – maybe a biscuit if they’re feeling indulgent 😉
The Ultimate Yoga Class
For Stress Awareness Month, we commissioned a unique yoga class. In this exclusive session for Ultimate Finance employees, qualified yoga instructor, Jodie Molyneux guided us through a full yoga session focussed on stress relief and relaxation.
Through these initiatives we’ve had great engagement from our employees whose feedback has been really positive with many saying they’ve seen a positive impact on their stress levels thanks to these measures. With work-related stress on the rise, hopefully these ideas can provide some inspiration to help combat stress in your business.