Stress is the body’s reaction to adverse or demanding situations. In the workplace, among other factors, this can take the form of demanding workload, lack of control, poor working conditions, or the breakdown of working relationships.
Chronic or repeated exposure to these stressors can have a detrimental effect on performance and can lead to a range of physiological and psychological consequences (known as allostatic load), including cardiovascular disease, burnout, depression and anxiety.
SuperFriend Program Manager John Capon says that it is important for managers and their teams to regularly discuss the level of stress being experienced and to investigate ways to address the causes of stress and support one another.
Checking on the level of stress your team is experiencing could be as simple as asking:
- On a scale of 1-10, (1 no/low stress and 10 extremely high stress), what is each team member’s preferred or optimum state?
- On the same scale, what level of stress have they experienced over recent times (for example, one month or two months)?
- On the same scale, what level of stress do they foresee over the coming month or two months?
If the demand has, or is forecast to, exceed the employee’s optimum level, it is important to discuss the causes of the stress, ways in which the employee can look after their wellbeing and how the team can support one another.
Capon says this activity allows managers and employers to understand the work load the team is under, which leads to more understanding and creates a shared commitment to support each other. He says that sometimes people just need to feel heard and understood and that in itself can help people to feel more supported.