We all know that high levels of stress can be destructive and I’m not sure this survey offers any revelations when suggesting it affects engagement. Both absenteeism and presenteeism are known phenomena in this context and we have seen the effects explored in many studies in the past.But what do we do about it? Rebekah Haymes from Towers Watson suggests employers could educate staff on “the benefits of more sleep, physical activity, good nutrition and work-life balance”.
Really? Surely the high levels of stress explored in the survey can lead to lack of sleep and a poor work-life balance in the first place. I’d be pretty peeved if the manager whose excessive demands were placing me under massive pressure and ripping the heart out of my home life started telling me I should go to bed early.Ms Haymes is on firmer ground when she hints that effective communication and feedback structures have an important role to play. Reviewing and strengthening processes for sharing information and building dialogue can help to shape the type of open, collaborative culture that enhances engagement and helps reduce stress.
Employers need to consider a range of factors here. These include the way leaders set out and involve people in where the organisation is going (and why). How information on company plans and progress is shared. How teams and individuals are prepared for (and supported in) their roles. How managers seek and respond to questions, ideas and concerns.Assessing such areas – and taking action where required – can help to create a more involving, engaging and productive culture for employees and leaders alike. It’s not a quick fix, nor a simple solution. Anyone with experience of trying to nurture cultural change will tell you that. But it’s far more likely to have a successful (and sustainable) impact for an organisation - and the people within it – than seeking to educate stressed employees on sleep patterns. Such initiatives may have their place, but only when more fundamental issues have been addressed. In any other context, they will be like a house built on sand.