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Dress Down Days? Duvet Days? try Stress Down Days!


Completed those returns yet? Need more sales? Finished that report? Too many deadlines? Heavy workload and working long hours? Under lots of pressure? Uncertainty? Very or extremely stressed? Worry causes stress. If this sounds all too familiar, whatever you do don’t reach for the coffee pot, just read on …

Working in publishing, with its relentless deadlines, particularly in the very competitive area of media sales, is recognised as a highly stressful occupation. However, recruitment consultancy, Media Contacts, has warned its clients that, under employment law, if staff develop stress related illnesses the company can be liable for compensation and risk litigation in the courts.

Media Contacts’ MD Hugh Joslin urges employers to battle the stress overload with the introduction of ‘Stress Down’ days, “Stress affects productivity, causes illnesses, low morale, poor attendance records and high staff turnover,” he said.

“A certain level of stress can add to the challenge and actually make work more rewarding,” added Joslin, “However there comes a point when it becomes counter productive and can lead to health and social problems.”

Increasing numbers of employees are making claims against employers for stress related health problems. ‘Stress Litigation’ is a growth industry. Employment tribunals and the courts are dealing with increasing number of high profile cases resulting in six figure awards. These cases highlight the dangers to employers and the attraction to employees of litigating, especially in the ‘no win no fee’ litigation. Every employer is legally obliged to protect the health and safety of their employees. Failing to do so can be very costly.

Have a great day at work, have a ‘Stress Down’ Day!

‘Dress Down’ days are an excellent team-booster, so why not try ‘Stress Down’ day as a major stress-buster? The ‘Stress Down’ Campaign is aimed at reducing and preventing stress at work.

The idea is that every employee leaves their worries at the door and has an enjoyable stress-free day, complete with a ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ attitude.

Employers are urged to do ‘their bit’ by organising fun activities, team building exercises, weekend breaks, competitions, nights out and other activities. Some media companies hire professional masseurs to come into their offices to give neck and shoulder massages at people’s desks. Physical exercise help combat stress, so a corporate gym membership makes good sense. Media Contacts advises clients to effort to enhance working conditions and ensure employees take their full annual leave entitlement and ‘let off steam’ occasionally.

There is also a call for the introduction of the American concept of ‘duvet days’, where staff can legitimately take a day off to destress, rather than ‘throw a sicky’.

“It is about employers acknowledging their staff efforts and a way of saying, we appreciate that you are working extremely hard and we know you are under lots of pressure. We know you are only humans, not robots, and you need time to stop or slow down from time to time,” said Joslin, adding, “The trick is to start by finding good quality, capable, reliable employees who will be able to cope in the ever-changing and very demanding media world.

Media Contacts also recommends that managers ensure that teams are up to full strength, to avoid putting an unnecessary burden of the workforce.

Stress prevention begins in giving employees clear goals, making sure they are aware of what is expected of them, providing adequate training and actively listening to their concerns. Good communication, /management and organisation are necessary ingredients to battle stress. Tackle stress by monitoring working time and conditions. Do not give employees too much or too little responsibility. Managers should also encourage their staff to relieve stress at work and give them advice on how to combat stress, such as: stay calm, keep cool, not worry about things beyond their control, to be organised, meditate and learn something new every day.

If staff are unhappy, they are likely to leave the company. Media Contacts says that as many one in ten candidates who register with them, are looking to change jobs because of unnecessary stress in their working life.

Stress makes employees unhappy, exhausted and vulnerable to illness and domestic problems. It leads to heavy drinking, irritability, job dissatisfaction, poor attendance and disturbed sleep. When people cannot sleep, they come to work tired and lack concentration and enthusiasm. Stress at work leads to stress at home.

Employer’s Guide to Stress Prevention

10 steps to prevent stress

  • Maintain high standards of health and safety and regularly monitor them. Safeguard the health and safety of your employees.
  • Ensure that employees are adequately trained for their job.
  • Give employees flexibility and allow some degree of control over their workload.
  • Do not give employees too much or too little work and responsibility. Redistribute workloads where possible and necessary to prevent any one employee becoming overwhelmed by the burden of work.
  • Employers should listen to their employees concerns and try to address any issues that may arise.
  • Keep a close eye on the day to day working relationships between employees to ensure that there is no bullying or other form of harassment being suffered.
  • Ensure good communication, organisation and management from the top to the bottom of the company.
  • Do not appoint domineering, bullying, aggressive managers.
  • Organise fun activities, team building exercises, weekend breaks, competitions, nights out, hire masseurs and organise corporate gym membership.
  • Make sure that employees are given clear goals and made fully aware of what is expected from them.

From sister site AccountingWEB: Stressed out? Take a break with US ‘busy season’ tips – discover stress busting from across the pond!

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