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Cath Everett

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National Stress Awareness Day misses the point – focus on resilience


Stress Awareness Day should be rebranded Resilience Awareness Day in order to focus attention less on the symptoms and more on potential cures for the now widespread malaise, according to an HR services firm.

Kevin Friery, clinical director of Right Management’s Right CoreCare business, said that staff today were stressed about two key things – fear over keeping their jobs and anxiety over being able to cope with the higher demands and fewer resources provided by their employers.
But there was now much evidence to suggest that one of the most effective ways of minimising stress was to build resilience. “Resilience is a pre-emptive strike against stress. Rather than waiting for it and seeking a cure, it looks at the situations that are more likely to create stress and prepares the individual, building a skill set that makes situations more manageable and stress less likely,” Friery said.
While people had believed for many years that stress was linked to personality type, it was now proven that being able to demonstrate resilience was in fact a “learned package of skills” that could be taught to the majority at any stage of life, he added.
As a result, rather than focusing on ‘Stress Awareness’, UK Plc should be encouraged to look at ‘Resilience Awareness’ and to consider just how resilient an organisations and its individual workers were.
“In times of pressure, being aware of resilience skills and applying them effectively is the best way of managing. Stress brings people and organisation to their knees. Resilience helps them thrive. Simple choice really,” Friery said.
According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), just over a third of employers have seen an increase in stress-related absence over the last year, with the situation particularly marked in the public sector.
Here 73% of manual and 79% of non-manual workers indicate that stress is among the top five reasons for not attending work compared with a national average of 51% and 63% respectively. The figures fall to 61% and 68% respectively in the third sector, 35% and 50% in manufacturing and production industries and 48% and 60% in private sector services.
The report entitled ‘Absence Survey’ also revealed that the median cost of absence across all sectors was £600 per employee per year, rising to £889 in the public sector where staff took off 9.6 days per employee per year compared with a national average of 6.6 days.

3 Responses

  1. Let’s define stress before we try to solve the equation…

    As far as I am aware stress is directly linked to pressure over which an individual feels they have little or no control. Stress levels build over time as the pressure continues or increases.

    The effective word here is therefore CONTROL. How can I control the effects of pressure.

    I firmly believe that our inability to control our own emotions is down to our inability to communicate effectively.

    Communication being a two (or more) way excercise demands that we can all listen, hear and understand another point of view, and be able to rationalise this in terms that meets with the approval of more than one person. Anything else means that one person at least is out of control. How can I control my work environment if I am unable to express my opinions about the job and the environment?

    Yes this has somthing to do with an individual’s profile and yes everyone can be made aware of better ways of dealing with it.

    The challenge is and always has been – how to improve communicaton skills amongst the workforce as a whole.

    There are at least nine interactive communication competencies that I know of – the strange thing is I am not aware of anyone teaching these.

    The challenge for management is how to pass the test of allowing employees (and other managers) to communicate effectively even if some do not wish to hear the comments.

    The reverse is of course true – improve communication and open up opportunities for the business.

  2. Beat the Blues
    Some of the tips for reducing stress are of course those that are suggested to beat the blues – build warm fires, go for brisk walks, eat healthily and lower your blood pressure.

    There are some ideas for foods to help reduce stress which could be worth passing on to colleagues.

  3. Stress Awareness v Resilience

    Sorry, but I think that both of these approaches are cop-outs.  How about recognising the wasteful costs and terrible human damage arising from stress, and concentrating on stress avoidance?  I once attended a (neutrally worded) internal course on stress, where we were asked to do breathing exercises, and that really stressed me with its implicit assumption that stress is a ‘given’ and the problem is weak workers rather than bad job design and management.

    Or am I in a minority of one?




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