UK: Being Aware Of Stress

Last Updated: 3 April 2019
Article by Susan Gregory

All of us experience stress in our lives and many of us experience work related stress; whether it's traffic aggravating our morning commute, meeting deadlines or having to balance work tasks with our home lives. There are a number of other possibilities and potential causes of stress are all around. As an employer we strive to be aware of work place pressures and work to reduce the effect of these on our colleagues.

So, why are we talking about stress? Every year April marks 'Stress Awareness Month' which aims to increase public awareness and remove the stigma related to stress. Excessive stress can greatly affect mental and physical health, where possible HL aims to ensure a happy and healthy workforce which means that we try to identify causes of stress in the workplace and take steps to remove or reduce them. As an employer HL have a duty to look after our colleagues, and more than this, we want to make HL an enjoyable place to work.

An individual can only do so much to reduce their work related stress but, as most of the stress inducing factors are out of their control, self-help alone is not always enough. Our HL Well scheme is all about making HL a safe and collaborative place to work. To that end we now have 24 mental health first aiders across our various offices who have been trained to recognise the symptoms of stress, are able to listen and direct people to appropriate support (HL Partner David Hammond has written a blog about becomming a MHFA, find it here).

HL well is a programme of activities which take place throughout the year which include activities (such as Tai Chi), information sessions and challenges. Our most recent challenge was our step competition in which everyone was given a pedometer and encouraged to hit the road and take as many steps at they could in the working day. At the end of the week we had taken an amazing 638239 steps (equivalent to 302 miles). As well as being a bit of fun, the step challenge encouraged people to get out of the office at lunch and get some fresh air, known to help reduce stress.

In February we had a mini health check week where we encouraged staff to try a number of activities which are proved to make a positive difference to health and wellbeing. This included suggestions from foot exercises to do at your desk to keep the blood pumping to cold showers (for those brave enough!). One of our most popular HL Well activities are our weekly yoga sessions which provide a chance to take some time out for yourself in the day and work on relaxation techniques.

We still have lots to look forward to as later in the year we'll see the return of healthy drinks infusions, massages, a mindfulness programme, team picnics, volunteering activities and information on health and nutrition all in the name of improving wellbeing and reducing stress in the workplace. Some of the HL Well initiatives are fundraising events and we donate the proceeds of these to Jonathan's Voice, a charity who work with organisations and individuals to promote mental wellbeing in the workplace and beyond – we're proud to support them!

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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