Absence, stress & depression in the workplace – line managers may hold the key
A recent study from NICE, the National Institute of Health & Clinical Excellence, caught my eye. Reported on the Management Today website, it suggests that poor line management is responsible for rising levels of stress in the workplace.
NICE reckons the total cost to the UK economy of work related stress, anxiety and depression is now a staggering £28bn – more than 14 million work days are lost every year due to these conditions.
It says that businesses can make their employees happier, reduce costs and boost productivity by following a few basic guidelines – like giving positive feedback, encouraging flexible working and giving days off as a reward.
And it’s not the only study to highlight this issue recently. Recruitment firm Badenoch & Clark found that 91% of employees are stressed at work – and worse still, seven in 10 are too scared to raise their concerns with their bosses. And back in the Spring a Finnish study concluded that poor team spirit at work can increase the chance of developing depression by more than half.
Now line managers clearly aren’t solely to blame for rising levels of stress and depression at work – the state of the economy doesn’t help – but their actions can play a big part in reducing or encouraging it.
And it’s often the little things that make the biggest difference – like saying hello to team members in the morning, recognising and celebrating successes, communicating regularly as a team, listening, providing constructive performance feedback, ensuring employees are clear on what they need to do by when and promoting a sense of ‘esprit de corps’. These are all practical things that line managers can do to help create a healthy and happy workplace.
Again and again in study after study the pivotal role of line managers is underlined. They hold the key to so many aspects of organisational success and, in my mind, represent the frontline in the battle for hearts and minds – and health – in the workplace.
If they are not already, I believe internal communicators should be focusing the bulk of their time, resources and energy on enhancing the quality of line managers, equipping them with the right skills and information and directly engaging them. As my old boss used to say, happy people + happy customers = successful business – and the first part of that equation rests largely in the hands of line managers.
Lee Smith, Gatehouse