Susan & Renée
New Guidelines for Managing Employee Stress
To his friends and colleagues, Brady was set.
He had a well-paying job, a nice house, a loving partner, kids he adored, and the financial stability to take a vacation every year.
But the Brady I knew was not one who inspired envy. The Brady who sat in my office every Tuesday for his weekly therapy session, was a man who dragged himself through the day. He couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t sleep, and couldn’t contain his anxious mind.
To his boss and coworkers, he pretended he was confident. They had no idea that he was struggling to keep up with the high and confusing demands that were expected of him. He harbored a deep-seated belief that no matter how hard he worked he would never measure up and would never be good enough.
But there was something else that made Brady’s situation even worse.
He was convinced that if he couldn’t keep up the pretense of being ok, he would surely be demoted and eventually fired. When rumor got out that layoffs were being considered, Brady’s anxiety went through the roof. Subsequently, his performance at work tanked.
Brady is not unusual. We frequently meet people like him in our work as psychotherapists and business consultants.
Like many of us, Brady was taught to keep our work life separate from our personal life. And he’s not wrong. Boundaries are essential for sustaining health and well-being.
But we can’t leave our brains and bodies at home while we go to our jobs. Whether we’re healthy or struggling, that stress follows us to work. And while this isn’t a new issue, the conditions brought on by the pandemic have made them more prominent and harder to ignore.
Our pre-pandemic fault lines have become wider, deeper, and more dangerous.
We aren’t built to just soldier on and absorb ever-increasing amounts of stress. And there are consequences when we try.
Consequences that impact us mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Consequences that leak out and affect those we live with, work with, and care about.
And that’s not fair.
It’s not fair to your loved ones, your coworkers, your company.
And it’s not fair to you.
The experts who set the standard for policies in the workplace agree that this is an issue deserving more attention. A new and recently published standard addresses this growing concern. The official name is ISO 45003, Occupational health and safety management – Psychological health and safety at work – Guidelines for managing psychosocial risks.
The standard provides guidance for recognizing dynamics in the workplace that pose a threat to the mental health and well-being of employees and identifies changes that can be made to improve the working environment.
Applicable to companies of all types and sizes, the standard outlines actions that prevent injury and poor health among employees while also cultivating resilience among staff and strengthening a healthy company culture.
Research shows that the benefits of such actions pay off by improving morale, enhancing company culture, decreasing sick leave, and improving productivity.
If you, like Brady, are a worker who is suffering, know that the struggle is real. Take heart that you are not alone and that companies are starting to get it.
If you are a leader, stay tuned for more discussion about how you can mitigate psychosocial risks in the workplace and create a healthy work environment.
If you are a leader who needs help cultivating a culture that supports employee mental health, reach out to G2 Solutions. We can work together to help you and your company thrive.
Click here to learn more about ISO and their new standard on managing psychosocial risks.