Stress in the workplace
Stress accounts for 40 per cent of all work-related illness. With national employment at an all-time high, it goes without saying that if you want the best people to stay with you – you have to look after their wellbeing.
The effects of stress at work, cannot and should not be underestimated. ‘There’s no health without mental health’ was the recent, central and powerful message from the UK’s Department of Health. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), reported that 428,000 people in the UK suffered from work-related stress “at a level they believed was making them ill” and that stress accounts for 40% of all work related illnesses.
We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Both change throughout our lives and, like our bodies, our minds can become unwell. The UK Chief Medical Officer raised concerns in a report in 2014 stating that 70 million working days are lost each year in the UK due to mental illness – of which stress, was a significant portion.
So, with stress levels in the workforce on the increase, at a time when the unemployment figures in the UK are amongst their lowest, can you afford to ignore wellbeing and still attract the right staff? The leverage of a significant salary may not be the driver it once was when retaining or attracting the best employees; many will be looking at the ‘whole picture’. All employers have to move with the market offering more and more money to procure the best talent, that’s just business. However, today’s successful employers have identified that offering their employee’s job satisfaction and equipping them with what they need to complete their job is just as important as how much is in their bank account at the end of the month.
In the property management sector particularly, staff are being asked to take on more. The requirements of a modern day client have escalated significantly – more responsibility and pressure to do things quicker, more efficiently and at reduced cost. Faced with these demands, unless you change how your department works or bolster your teams, the constant fire-fighting soon becomes waring. Quickly, staff become less happy, stop talking to one another because they are “too busy”, which in turn leads to communication failure, isolation, sickness rates rising and staff retention problems.
Consider the Gallup 12 employment survey. It’s about how you feel valued in your place of work, how you interact with your workplace and engage with others in it. How, by being able to do your job well, you grow in confidence and are afforded opportunities to learn and become the very best version of you possible. People thrive on challenges. Often, when they feel confident they achieve things that they thought they weren’t capable of doing. The more successful organisations encourage this – at all levels of the business – they ensure staff have time to grow and are not dragged down with mundane tasks, which often take the most time and seemingly never end.
Take your typical property manager; I’d put money on the fact that they didn’t enter this industry to spend an afternoon sorting out a blocked toilet! Moreover, these menial tasks are often those that take up huge amounts of time, not to mention the stress involved in dealing with irrate tenants and contractors that don’t understand the importance of good communication, especially is emergency situations.
Many articles relating to employee wellbeing have been written over the past few years. Largely they concentrate on wellbeing initiatives afforded to the employee for example: Perkbox, free fruit, coffee machines, gym membership etc. These are bonuses, and yes – of course – they are important. However this is just papering over the cracks. Fundamentally if you are constantly unable to do your job, a Skinny Latte or a Pepperoni slice won’t give you the job satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that successfully completing tasks does.
So what can make the difference?
Simply put – allowing people to excel in their jobs. Being innovative as to how you can free up their time to be good at the things they are employed to do. In FM terms, this means reducing client risk, providing tenants with an excellent building experience and ensuring the building itself is maintained and managed in a way that protects the owner’s good name and makes it as desirable to potential buyers and tenants as possible.
There are options and solutions that don’t involve spending thousands of pounds on coffee machines or corporate gym memberships. In the property sector, the aim should be to give property managers and FM’s the tools to do their job successfully by reducing the time consuming and mundane tasks for them. It should be about, assisting them and providing additional resource and support, whilst freeing up their time to make them, and your business, more productive.
Absolutely employers need to take employee wellbeing seriously and it should be a major contributor to how any business sets its stall out. Wellbeing initiatives aren’t just a great idea, they are a necessity and really can improve staff morale, loyalty and absolutely give the employee a sense of belonging and value. But let’s not forget that getting the job done is the driver for any employee and the best place to start is to provide them with the tools to do it. And only then can they enjoy the coffee machines, pizza and gym membership.