Over time, our relationship with our job changes and unforeseen challenges can arise. What happens when your employees start to experience work place struggles such as: excessive workloads, feeling burned out, lack of support in the workplace, hostile and toxic work environments, bullying or hitting a wall in personal development?

One of the essential factors for your employees in successfully managing work-life balance is the ability to reduce and control stress. Stress is undoubtedly one of the biggest problems faced by the modern workforce and can have damaging consequences – and time off work due to stress, depression and anxiety has a considerable impact on work place productivity.

The latest estimates show that:

– The number of cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2015/16 were 488,000, a prevalence rate of 1,510 per 100,000 workers.

– The total number of working days lost due to these conditions in 2015/16 was 11.7 million. This equated to an average of 23.9 days lost per case.

– In 2015/16 stress accounted for 37% of all work related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health.

What can employers do to minimise stress and its damaging consequences?

While accepting help from trusted friends and family members can improve your employee’s ability to manage workplace As an employer, you should also have stress management resources available through your employee assistance programme (EAP), including online information and possibly counselling and referrals if needed.

Instead of attempting to fight workplace stress with junk food or alcohol, we should be encouraging employees to make healthy choices when they feel the tension rise. Exercise is a great stress-buster. Any form of physical activity is beneficial. Encourage them to make time for hobbies and their favourite activities. Make sure they set aside time for the things that bring them pleasure. Getting enough good quality sleep is also important for effectively managing stress at work.

In today’s technological society, it’s easy to feel pressure to be available 24 hours a day. Establish some work-life boundaries for your team. That might mean making a rule not to check emails from home in the evening, or not answering the phone during dinner. Although people have different preferences when it comes to how much they blend their work and home life, creating some clear boundaries between these realms can reduce the potential for work-life conflict and the stress that goes with it.

To avoid the negative effects of chronic stress and burnout, we need time to replenish and return to our pre-stress level of functioning. This recovery process requires “switching off” from work by having periods of time when you are neither engaging in work-related activities, nor thinking about work. That’s why it’s critical that we all disconnect from time to time, in a way that fits our individual needs and preferences. When possible, we should take time off to relax and unwind, so we come back to work feeling reinvigorated and ready to perform at our best. When you are not able to take time off, get a quick boost by focusing your attention on non-work activities for a while.

Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises and (a state in which you actively observe present experiences and thoughts without judging them) can help manage workplace Start by taking a few minutes each day to focus on a simple activity like breathing, walking or enjoying a meal. The skill of being able to focus purposefully on a single activity without distraction will get stronger with practice and you’ll find that you can apply it to many different aspects of your life.

If you want to minimise the risk of absenteeism and other disruptive effects of stress and anxiety on your employees, both in the workplace and at home, take a look at CiC’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).