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Train to gain: Helping employees deal with workplace stress

Stress can be debilitating if it’s left to its own devices. However, combating anxiety in the workplace doesn’t necessarily have to be laborious, and effective training is a tangible countermeasure that can help employees cope.

Learning is integral to growing in any job, and that mantra should be applied to dealing with workplace stress.

A need for coping

The Canadian Mental Health Association* finds that the larger the discrepancy between each employee and how comfortable they are in the work environment “the greater the likelihood for [anxiety] and strain”.

In simpler terms, the quality of training that employees will require is directly proportional to the levels of workplace stress they have to deal with.

Productivity is inextricably linked to workplace anxiety and as such, the onus is on businesses to better equip their staff with ways to manage issues.

The Health and Safety Executive** – a UK government-backed body – found that it is good organisational policy to “provide specialist advice and awareness training on stress”.

Adaptable policy

However, work health and safety training programs are not one-size-fits-all.

Adapting the details of any policy is crucial depending on sector. For example, in a role that is highly active, employees are likely to come under physical stress. Alternatively, in an office job, staff will face more cognitive-based anxiety.

Considering what type of stress needs to be managed is important, and research from the New Zealand Department of Labour*** suggested enterprises can go one step further.

The report surmised that the concept of any anxiety management program “can be extended to cover personal attributes such as aptitude, capacity, training and physical and emotional fitness for the task.”

While taking an individual approach may not be viable for bigger organisations due to time and cost constraints, smaller enterprises can benefit their employees by more closely tailoring the learning process.

One stress-fighting technique which can help even the largest companies is mindfulness training. This is a group of exercises aimed at enabling individual employees to deal with anxiety.

Stress reduced by half

Employees that learn and practice mindfulness techniques for a period of six weeks to three months can reduce emotional exhaustion from “nearly 25 percent to almost 15 percent,” according to Health Advocate**** – one of the US’s biggest healthcare assistance companies.

The report went on to explain that after the completing of the program, stress and fatigue were reduced by half across the organisation.

Teaching employees to manage anxiety is imperative in the hunt for long-term success. Whether it’s individually or across the whole company, there can be little denying that effective training can help any staff deal with work-related stress.

*Canadian Mental Health Association, “Stress in the workplace: A general overview of the causes, the effects, and the solutions”.

**Health and Safety Executive, “An example of stress policy”.

***New Zealand Department of Labour, “Stress and Fatigue. Their impact on health and safety in the workplace”.

****Health Advocate, “Stress in the workplace. Meeting the challenge”.

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