Kicking Stress Out!

The past year has upended all we know about work and wellbeing, and those facts will stretch on long after the pandemic. In fact, a recent BBC survey found that 70% of workers don’t expect a return to office life equal to that of pre-pandemic levels. Whilst many have acclimatised well to working from home, or desire a more hybrid work environment moving forward, some working pitfalls remain--namely, stress. How can businesses better support their employees and provide employee benefits that actually improve their lives and mitigate stress?

We’ve looked at which regions of the country have been most stressed out by work and what businesses can do to better support employees and kick stress out.
Stressed out nation

Work from home directives may have helped cut back on transport expenses for many, but sometimes at the cost of spending more time working or living with the job uncertainty when on furlough. For others, burnout and stress came from not being able to properly divide their work life from home life when all was condensed in one area. And that’s all before we look at the demands and stresses of everyday life amidst a global pandemic.

A survey conducted by Wildgoose further emphasises this point as 44% of respondents said they were expected to do more work and 54% said that communication and expectations were falling outside of working hours leading to burnout, stress and fatigue.

We’ve also analysed furlough, labour productivity, stress, and depression data to see which regions have been feeling the pressure the past year and a half. In the analysis, we found that North West England was the most stressed region in the country with second highest density of furloughed workers, higher levels of work stress and depression, none of which made a dent in the high levels of productivity reported in the region for 2020. The least stressed region in the UK was the East of England, followed by Scotland and Yorkshire and the Humber.

How to kick stress out and support employees

It’s clear that workers are feeling the stress and employers need to do more to support their staff and encourage a better work-life balance, especially if teams are remote and working from home. We’ve asked a few business and HR leaders to give us their best tips on how to give staff employment benefits that hold up and make an impact.

1. Virtual Tea Breaks

Tea Breaks were and are a natural event during any working day. We all know the feeling of needing to take a quick minute to get a brew, unwind, and chat with a colleague away from the desk. Whilst remote working makes it difficult to do this, booking in a team or even a company-wide tea break for 5-20 minutes could help keep that camaraderie alive and relieve some stress.

2. Encourage teams to turn off

Many have found themselves working more and struggling to turn off after work. Even with flexible hours, many still feel anxious about signing off at the end of the day and shutting down. Erin Stone, Head of HR at Hinterland Hinterland, reiterates this with mandatory after work sign outs: “Whether your workforce is all in-office, all remote, or hybrid, create a policy where all employees officially sign off from all job-related duties to help reduce and eliminate stress.” Have staff turn off Slack, email, and other notifications after work. You can even consider quiet or library hours during the workday that allow employees to focus on tasks without the distractions and disruptions of meetings and communication; that way they can manage their time and not feel overwhelmed with various requests.

3. Catering to different employee needs

Employees will be at different points of their personal and working lives and being able to provide benefits packages and flexible working patterns that work for the individual employee. Branka Vuleta, founder of, suggests: “Employers can help their workers avoid burnout by offering childcare perks such as childcare allowance, organising childcare services in the facility or allowing them to work on a more flexible schedule that will enable them to manage their professional and personal chores in the best way.” Of course, flexible schedules aren’t useful just for parents; that’s why it’s important to allow employees to customise their benefits so that it works to achieve their work-life balance. Dan Skaggs from One Thing Marketing adds, “Let’s be honest, we don’t need to be in the office 9-5. To effectively support employees, offer them a reduction in working hours. I’ve seen this greatly reduce stress amongst my employees who are now more relaxed and productive at work!”

4. Be caring

As Edward Mellet from Wikijob told us, it’s time to “reduce tough love.” Leading with empathy rather than imposing unrealistic expectations and taking a hardline approach between managers and employees, will not only help to reduce stress, but also lead to better performance. Companies can also provide training to help managers better spot signs of stress and burnout as Rolf Bax from recommends.

5. Give staff opportunity to self-care

We don’t just mean running a candle-lit bath or organising a spa day away. It’s important to foster a safe environment where staff feel free to voice concerns and are also given tools that will help them de-stress. One of these strategies could be hosting mindfulness or breathing workshops. It might not always be good enough to tell staff to take the time out of their day to check in, but actually showing them and giving them the tools to do so can make all the difference in turning stress around.
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