Engaging with stressed employees?

By  Jenni Kampf

May 22, 2018

This week (14 May) is Mental Health Awareness Week and we asked one of our lovely committee members, Jenni Kampf a Senior Communications Officer at Cardiff University, to give her top tips on how Internal Communicators can help build an environment that supports wellbeing in their organisation.

We all have strategies for coping with stress in our lives, but this Mental Health Awareness Week, I’ve been thinking about how internal communications can help improve the wellbeing of our people.
High levels of workplace stress could be having a negative impact on engagement, according to research from Robert Half UK (cited in HR Magazine). The report found that 63% of UK employees surveyed said they experience stress in their jobs. It also cites a survey from Towers Watson which shows the 57% of employees who experience high stress levels also report being disengaged.

Given that the signs of stress could include feeling uninterested in life and being unable to concentrate, it’s hardly surprising that stressed employees don’t engage with their organisations.

However, there are things that internal communications can do to help build an environment that prioritises employee wellbeing and helps to reduce stress:

Recognise employees, their efforts and achievements.
If people feel that their work is appreciated and has a positive impact on the bigger picture, they will feel more valued and supported.

Provide consistent communications.
Focus on wellbeing with consistent messages from senior leaders – then back these messages up with action. Honest, open, and accurate messaging will help to reduce the stress that can be caused by a lack of trust in the organisation.

Set – and meet – employees’ expectations of communications.
This is especially important during periods of change, which can be stressful. Our people need to know what they can expect from internal communications, and be able to trust in our honest and open approach.

Encourage senior leaders to model staff wellbeing.
If the people at the top of your organisation are participating in wellbeing activities and encouraging an openness and discussion of stress and other issues, that approach will filter down to the rest of the organisation. It will also ensure that wellbeing remains strategically important to the organisation.

Create space for discussions about stress and mental health.
Enable discussions about mental health issues to help remove some of the stigma around them. You can find more ideas like this and resources on the Mind website.

Allow time for wellbeing.
What does a happy employee look like? How can we ensure that, through competing priorities and day-to-day business, we retain an emphasis on wellbeing across the organisation?

Measure wellbeing. 

Are the practices our organisations put in place actually helping with staff wellbeing? Do people feel supported? Wellbeing should be a key metric in staff surveys so we can track attitudes and sentiment over time and see the impact of any new activities.
Whilst we’re focusing on the wellbeing of our employees – and enabling our organisations to proactively and consistently promote mental health – it’s vital that we don’t neglect our own physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Check the NHS’ ten stress busting tips and see how you can model that positive behaviour you’re promoting, and improve your own wellbeing.